Third Sunday of Easter 2011

 Mass readings for this Sunday are here

The Gospel for this Sunday is the story of Jesus meeting two of the disciples on the Emmaus road after His Resurrection which was also read on the first Wednesday in The Octave of Easter so I'm linking to my post for that day from here
and another earlier post on the Emmaus Road from here.

There are also many good resources and reflections for Sunday from the Centre for Liturgy at St Louis University - Click here

and also here from the Jesuit Catholic Creighton University are reflections on the scripture readings prepared by members of the university faculty, lay and ordained and also here a student's reflection on the Gospel.

Weren’t our hearts on fire when he spoke to us on the road and when he explained the Scriptures for us?” 
As we continue the Easter journey toward Pentecost, we are invited to answer the question: When and where are our hearts on fire?
I know I have been so fortunate that my trip to Rome this week has been one such experience and I am grateful for the opportunity to have gone there.

There has been much happening in the Church in recent years that have caused me and others to experience grief and some disillusionment, but for once this week my heart was able to share in the fantastic wonder and joy of our communal witness to faith.

On the Monday morning before the Bloggers conference I walked along the road leading to St Peter's Square along with many thousands of others to celebrate the first Mass after Pope JPII's Beatification ceremony the day before. 

The last time I was in Rome I was able to walk freely through Bernini's columns into the vastness of St Peter's Square but as a sad expression of the ever present threat of violence everyone now has to pass through the screening gates at the entrance.

That morning news of the killing of Osama bin Laden gave an extra edge to the  process of searching the crowds as we queued for the Mass and the memories of how many lives had been lost on and since the events of to  9 -11 was a sobering thought in my mind.

It is hard to convey the experience of that day but it was something that will stay with me forever.

Something burned within my heart.

Thousands of Polish people had walked their way to Rome for the Beatification ceremony on the previous day and then had to queue from 4 or 5.30 in the morning to stake a place. On the Monday they were there again, but the look of tiredness was muted by the signs of their devout faith that I was humbled to witness in the square.

People sat quietly taken up by the occasion
here at the heart of the institutional and apostolic Catholic faith I saw people with rosary beads hanging from their hands, deep in contemplation /silent prayer.

Some stood and stared at the beautiful altar, others whooped with excitement just to have arrived.

It was hard not to be moved by seeing people on their knees praying with heads bowed.

The joy of the disciples at encountering the Risen Christ was confirmed when they returned back to Jerusalem and discovered that they weren't the only ones to have had such a heartwarming experience.

Simon Peter had also encountered the Risen Christ. 

On the way back to the airport I shared a seat in the taxi with a young lad of 19 or 20 and his Dad from Exeter - neither were Christians and they were in Rome that weekend and by accident found themselves caught up in the crowds of pilgrims . 

They both related how impressive it was to see so many people come together  and they were also moved by the singing and music.

So, as I returned home to Cornwall with the knowledge that I have shared amazing experiences in Rome and when I pick up on the happenings of my friends and fellow bloggers and go to Mass on Sunday and receive the Body and Blood of Christ, along with many others I am glad to know that this wonderful gift allows a continuity of grace that makes us all truly part of one body of Christ, no matter how geographically far apart we are. 

In a week that saw the beatification of Pope John Paul II it seems fitting to finish the week with some of his words .....

"However tiring, the road to Emmaus leads from a sense of discouragement and bewilderment to the fullness of Easter faith. … 

As the light of the risen Christ illumines the whole universe, we can only express solidarity with all our brothers and sisters in the Middle East who have been caught in a maelstrom of armed violence and retaliation. 
The roar of weapons must give way to the voice of reason and conscience:  sincere concern for the legitimate aspirations of all peoples and the scrupulous observance of international law are the only way to bring the parties back to the negotiating table and to mark out a path of brotherhood for those peoples."

John Paul II, 18 April 2001

"Like the disciples of Emmaus, believers, supported by the living presence of the risen Christ, become in turn the travelling companions of their brothers and sisters in trouble, offering them the word which rekindles hope in their hearts. 

With them they break the bread of friendship, brotherhood and mutual help. 
This is how to build the civilization of love. 
This is how to proclaim the hoped-for coming of the new heavens and the new earth to which we are heading."

John Paul II, Jubilee Day of Migrants and Refugees

I realise that not everyone( including myself) was in agreement with some of the decisions made during the papacy of JPII nor were all in agreement with the fast tracking of his road to beatification but despite our differences we all get the opportunity at some point on our lives to share our witness in the community of faith.

 We have enough in our hearts that should unite us in one crucible of fire of the Holy Spirit that burns in all our hearts.

This is a great reflection on the Emmaus Road Story by Fr.Thomas Rosica and he finishes with a beautiful prayer

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