I am so edified by our students who are recently baptized and welcomed into the Church. Unlike the rest of us, the experience of Catholicism is so new and fresh and they often desire to experience it more and more. Particularly impressive is seeing some of them at daily Mass in the days since Easter. Their lives are so on fire with a love of Christ, particularly in the Scriptures and the Eucharist that they find time even during exam week to come to daily Mass. By highlighting their zeal, I am in no way trying to call out cradle Catholics as somehow less than holy because they don’t come, but rather to simply celebrate how a fresh encounter with Christ in the Church can be transformational. It renews my faith in the Spirit alive and well in our midst!
It is that same Spirit that has two men walking along the road to Emmaus talking about Jesus in the days after his death and resurrection. You could imagine that such events could have given Jesus’ followers reason for despair – reason to not even talk about it anymore – so disillusioning as the passion events must have been. But it is their zeal to continue to reflect upon the Jesus event that brings them into contact with the Risen Lord. It is that encounter, and the subsequent breaking of the bread, that sets their hearts on fire for Him all the more: “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?” It is only in the grace to step forward and reflect together on the Jesus event that we can hope to encounter Him all the more!
As an acid reflux patient, I am loath at times to use the Gospel metaphor of heart burn. However, if we want to be on fire with the Spirit so as to be able to recognize the presence of Jesus in our lives, there is going to be some discomfort. May we be open to how encounters with Jesus enflame us with a passion to celebrate our faith in more evident ways (with the same fervor as the newly baptized), and may we be equally willing to embrace the discomfort that they may bring as Jesus calls us beyond the comfort of our sinfulness to the glory of resurrected life!
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