Faith’s Journey: An Encounter and a Response
This weekend will be a memorable one for a number of our parishioners.
At our 5, 8:30 and 10:30 a.m. Masses, along with a special Sunday afternoon Mass, we’ll be celebrating First Communions. And in just a couple of more weeks at the Saint Paul Cathedral, a number of our young men and women will be confirmed.
On the one hand these are great milestones for so many of us. There’s pictures taken, parties afterwards, and appropriate celebration.
However, it’s more than photos too. One of the things I remember was Archbishop Flynn saying at a confirmation Mass that “this is not just a photo op.” And his point is that the moment reminds us that faith is a journey, and one that requires a response.
During the Octave of Easter, (the 8 day celebration of Easter from Easter Sunday to the Second Sunday of Easter) the reading on Easter Wednesday was the story of the disciples on the Road to Emmaus. We had this same reading last weekend too. They are dejected and Jesus journeys with them but they do not know it is him. Then in the breaking of the bread they realize it is Him, but then he vanishes and they realize it was Him. We are also reminded in that Gospel that we are sent, hearing “as the Father has sent me, so I send you” in the Gospel.
What First Communion and Confirmation remind us of is that our faith is a journey. But we need to also see Jesus, and bring Him to the world.
“Deism” is a school of thought that there is a God but He’s not much involved in the world. He created it like a watchmaker, but that’s the extent of His involvement. There are probably a number of Deists in the world, but hopefully we as Catholics understand that Jesus is always with us. The question is do we see the Lord and open up our eyes? The Eucharist helps that to happen for us as it did for the disciples on the road to Emmaus. But we just need to open our eyes and hearts and make sure we are actively trying to work with God.
The Eucharist, for one, is a major reminder of our Lord’s presence – Real Presence – with us. Our First Communion was the first of many moments where we’ll receive Jesus at Mass. The Eucharist is Jesus’ gift to us of His Body; to remove sin from us; to bring us closer to Him, and to give us that food for the journey so we can face tough situations in our lives, knowing we do not do so alone. It’s so important for us as Catholics to remember the Eucharist is not just a symbol, but Jesus Himself in the form of Bread and Wine. As we read in John 6:53: “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.” Jesus wants to journey with us every step of the way. But while Jesus is always there, we also have to open our souls for the effects of the Eucharist. Hopefully our eyes are always opened to see Jesus’ love and we take Communion seriously, thinking about how we can grow in our faith closer to the Lord.
We then remember too that we are sent. One of the things I try to do as a priest is to remind people of the saying that sometimes we are the only Bible people will ever read. Think for a minute about how people prepare for First Communion and Confirmation; they are helped along that journey by their sponsors and by catechists who reveal the faith to them. By being involved in the lives of others, by talking about our faith in words and actions, and applying what our faith teaches about morals and the dignity of the human person we can do so much to evangelize. The world needs that more than ever as so many have a false understanding of freedom, and are like Pilate who could not see the truth of God’s love revealed right in front of his face as Jesus stood before him. When the Eucharist takes root in our souls, and when we open ourselves up to the Holy Spirit by journeying with God, we can do so much to help others come and see, as the women told the apostles on that Easter Sunday morning.
Faith is indeed a journey – it can’t stop with Confirmation. We can’t get sidetracked into thinking our final destination is our career, and sometimes our world revolve around a schedule, our kids sports teams, the busyness of life, when it really needs to revolve around God.
Congrats to all those making their First Communions this week. May the Holy Spirit continue to strengthen you as you journey with Jesus every day.
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