My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,1
As I was saying, I just introduced the Candidates for Confirmation, so as we continue this joyful Easter season, today we share the joy of these men and women who are receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation.
Today, you are receiving the Holy Spirit sacramentally. Just as the Apostles received the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Day.
In a special way, you are becoming witnesses of the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ. And from now on, you have the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
I always ask the Confirmandi when I do Confirmation in the parishes: How many gifts? 200? Or 20? Obviously the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit — I know that you know that.
It is so important that now you are going to have in a special way the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
In our Christian lives, we are walking every day with Jesus by our side and in the company of the Holy Spirit — who is given to us in Confirmation as a gift by God’s love. It is, as we know, the sanctifier — it is the one that walks with us and gives us whatever we need in order to really become saints.
So my brothers and sisters who are to be confirmed today — we rejoice with you and your families and your sponsors as we celebrate this beautiful moment on your journey with Jesus Christ. Congratulations to you all!
So our Gospel today is precisely about that journey with Jesus Christ. It is a story that we know very well, the moving and emotional story of the disciples who meet Jesus on the road to Emmaus on that first Easter evening.
And this story is a symbol of our life of faith, this journey that we are making with Jesus on the road of life.
But our Gospel today is telling us very important. It is telling us that the Resurrection changes everything — and this is the joy that we celebrate during the Easter Season.
And we hear about this joy in the first reading today, and again in the Letter from St. Peter that we heard in the second reading of today’s Mass.
It is the joy of knowing that Jesus is alive!
St. Peter tells us in that first reading:
But God raised him up, releasing him from the throes of death,
because it was impossible for him to be held by it.
And then he goes onto say:
God raised this Jesus
Of this we are all witnesses
We really need to hear these words because what St. Peter is saying is amazing. Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead — for you. His Resurrection is personal. It is for you. It is for me.
And this means — just what it means for those disciples on the road to Emmaus. It means that now we can live our whole lives in a true encounter with the Risen Jesus!
It’s amazing! It’s beautiful!
So let’s look again at the encounter that we have just heard about in today’s passage of the Gospel.
First, Jesus comes to be with his disciples. Jesus himself drew near and walks with them.
Jesus, my dear brothers and sisters, wants to walk with us every day and every moment of our lives, just as he did with those disciples in the Gospel.
And then, what does Jesus do?
Then, beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him other Scriptures! He teaches them!
He explains the Scriptures to them and obviously they are inspired. And they ask him to stay with them. And then Jesus sits with them at the table. He takes the bread, and blesses it, and then he breaks it — and in that moment they recognize him. And then he is gone.
My dear brothers and sisters, this is exactly how Jesus draws near to us and walks with us in our lives. As a matter of fact, this is what we are doing today, right now, in this beautiful Cathedral. This story of Emmaus is a description, in a sense, of the Holy Mass.
In this story of Emmaus — we see the first Sunday celebration of the Eucharist! And in the Church, as we know, we have been doing the same thing — every Sunday, every day, everywhere in the world, since that first Easter night. It is amazing to think about that!
Whenever we gather in his name, in this church — in any Catholic Church all over the world— Jesus is present. It is Jesus who opens the Scriptures for us, Jesus who teaches us to understand our lives in the light of his life and death and Resurrection. Just like those disciples on that first Easter — Jesus is made known to us in the breaking of the bread.
And then, my dear brothers and sisters, Jesus sends us out into the world to be witnesses of his Resurrection — again, just as he sends those disciples today in the Gospel.
So like the disciples of Emmaus, we need to be on fire as they were just thinking about the fact that Jesus is with us and that we can, in a special way, receive him Holy Communion every day, or at least every Sunday when we come to Mass.
And then obviously we are excited about it, then we need to “set out at once” — just like the disciples at Emmaus — to tell everyone of our encounter with Jesus. We need to tell the world the joy of finding Jesus.
Especially in these challenging times, we need to walk with the people of our time — those who are in pain and sorrow. And at the same time, with all of their joys and hopes. And we need to help them find Jesus, who is alive!
Isn’t that amazing? Isn’t that beautiful? Isn’t that special?
This is our beautiful mission, my dear brothers and — to be witnesses of his Resurrection in our times.
So this week, my brothers and sisters, let us try to live with the joy of the Resurrection. Like those disciples of Emmaus.
Let’s ask God today for his grace — to walk with Jesus, to let him teach us so that our hearts burn with the love of God. Let us ask for his grace to let Jesus open our eyes to see him and to know that he is alive and active in the world and in our daily lives.
And let us ask Our Blessed Mother Mary — Mother of God and our Mother — to help us to share the joy of Jesus, who is alive, and this beautiful reality of the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ with every one!
1. Readings (Third Sunday of Easter, Year A): Acts 2:14, 22-23; Ps. 16:1-2, 5, 7-11; 1 Pet. 1:17-21; Luke 24:13-35.