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Bishop Strickland during Mass for the Third Sunday of Easter.
Dear Catholic Online Community and Catholic Online School students...
I AM TRULY HAPPY TO OFFER EACH OF YOU ANOTHER INVITATION
This Sunday is the third Sunday of the Easter Season. We are all still struggling through the major readjustment caused by the COVID 19 Virus. But, for those with living faith, like you and me, we know Jesus Christ, the Risen Savior is Lord.
We will come through this.
And, hopefully, this protracted time of prayer and reflection will help us to understand the things that matter most, like living, genuine faith, loving and serving the Lord, loving our families - and loving one another. Proclaiming the love of Jesus Christ to a world waiting to be born anew.
In our first reading, from the second chapter of the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, we are reminded that the early Christians lived their lives differently, because of the Saving Incarnation, conception, life, suffering, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. That is called the Paschal Mystery in theology. Not "mystery", meaning a puzzle, but something so profound it can only be grasped by real faith.
The early Christians were known by the people as "The Way". Because their faith gave birth to an entirely new way of Life. Before they were called Christians in Antioch (Acts 11:26) the followers of Jesus Christ were referred to as "the Way".
The Apostle Paul wrote of having persecuted "this Way" prior to encountering the Risen Lord on the Road to Damascus. (Acts 22:3-16) The expression, "The Way" discloses the self-understanding of the early Christians. They believed, proclaimed and lived their Christian faith as a new way of being human. Our relationship with Jesus Christ and membership in His Body, the Church, is meant to be experienced in the same way.
Our Second reading is an excerpt from the first chapter of the first letter the Apostle Peter writes to all the Churches. He is instructing them in how to live this New Way. Just prior to the verses read today, he has called them to holy living. That holy living, he explains, should give rise to a new way of relating to one another and to those to whom they are sent. He reminds them they have been delivered from a "futile" way of life.
SO, HAVE WE - my dear friends.
When we follow Jesus -in both word and deed - a dynamic process happens within us, a process of ever deepening conversion and transformation. We change. We are being converted.
We actually "participate in the Divine Nature", the Apostle Peter tells us in his second letter- beginning right now. (2 Peter 1:4). We are made complete, perfected in charity, by grace and our continued cooperation with grace.
We begin to change into the very new men and women that Jesus Christ has now capacitated us to become.
Our Gospel for this Third Sunday of Easter is from Luke's Gospel. (Luke 24:13 - 35) The Apostle recounts the disciples walking toward Emmaus, forlorn and perplexed over what had occurred to the Lord. Jesus draws near to them on their journey, but they do not recognize Him. This is a common theme in many of the post-resurrection appearances recounted in the Scriptures.
The disciples continue their discussion of the events which had occurred during the days before surprised that the stranger beside them seemed unaware of what had occurred. In His empathy and compassion, Jesus enters their experience and listens.
Then, he gives them the most profound expository sermon (or homily as Catholics call it) of all time.
He explains the Scriptures and shows these travelers how they all referred to the Christ. He explains the very events they were recounting to him on the road. However, even after the word was broken open by the Living Word Incarnate, the disciples still did not recognize Jesus.
They invited their fellow traveler to stay with them, "stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over. "Out of the depth of the love in His Sacred Heart, He agrees. Then, we read these wonderful words:
"And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened, and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?"
"So, they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the Eleven and those with them who were saying, "The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!" Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
From the earliest centuries Christians have understood this great encounter on the road to Emmaus as referring to the Holy Eucharist, the great Sacrament of Love, wherein Jesus Christ gives Himself completely to us, body, blood, soul and divinity. This is the Sacrament we call "Holy Communion" because it brings us into communion with the Lord and, in Him with one another.
Of course, considering that, this wonderful encounter on the way to Emmaus opens up in beauty for all who reflect on it prayerfully during this Easter season.
In the light of the encounter with the Lord in the breaking of the bread, their eyes were opened. So it is meant to be with each one of us. The Holy Eucharist is more than a commemoration; it is an invitation into communion with the Living God - right now because Jesus Christ is Risen from the dead and walks with us on the road of life.
As the whole world continues through the difficult days associated with the effects of the COVID 19 or Coronavirus, and millions are unable to physically participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, my Bishop, Joseph Strickland of the Catholic Diocese of Tyler, will offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, in private, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
I will not be serving as the Deacon at this Holy Mass, I have other ministry assignments. But my deacon brothers from my Diocese will. We invite you to join, virtually, with the faithful throughout the world in prayer and worship in an online experience of Holy Mass.
Let us pray that the Lord, in His Mercy, reach out from heaven to heal those afflicted with the virus - and intervene by the Power of the Holy Spirit - to bring an end to its devastation.
Let us pray for the Church - and for all of her clergy and faithful - that she would be a witness to the Power of Living Faith in Jesus Christ and share the Good News of Jesus Christ to a world steeped in fear and darkness.
Let us pray for those in Civil leadership, that the Lord would give them the wisdom they need to make right decisions for the health, safety and welfare of people in every Nation.
Let us pray for those in the scientific and medical community, that they would be inspired by the Lord to find a cure for this virus.
Let us pray for one another.
And finally, let us believe the words and he promise of Jesus Christ. Even during this current crisis, He is at work, healing, delivering and setting people free from death.
The Father hears our prayers as we turn to Him, in the name of His Son and Our Savior. He sends forth the Holy Spirit to heal, inspire and give us hope in this time of despair. The Lord will intervene to help us.
May the Lord bless you, your families, the Church and the Nations of the world
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Deacon Keith Fournier
Dean of Catholic Online School
Chaplain of Your Catholic Voice Foundation
- Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary
- Unfailing Prayer to St. Anthony
- The Apostles' Creed
- Hail Mary
- Infant Jesus of Prague Novena Prayer
- Hail, Holy Queen
- Three O' Clock Prayer to the Divine Mercy
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