Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mary, teach us how to go to Mass

3rd Sunday of Easter
St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center at the University of Kansas
8 May 2011
Daily Readings

The paschal victory of Christ which we celebrate during this long Easter season is a victory for yesterday, today and forever. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is for us a past, a present and a future. He is doing right now what he did yesterday, and what he will do tomorrow. The disciples on the road to Emmaus, in the aftershock of the paschal events, obviously needed a visit from the master to understand this new mixing of time.

The paschal event is the hour of history meant to contain all other hours, including the present moment. Jesus' suffering death and resurrection if it is be the hour of the world's redemption, must be an ever present hour, an hour that never fades as the clock of history keeps ticking. It must be an event that happened in real historical time but yet an event that never ends nor fades from memory like other events do. If this were not true, our doing this Eucharist in memory of the paschal event would be a futile exercise indeed, for none of us historically were there. The power of our memory is not what makes Jesus present right now. If the disciples who were the first to hear of the Resurrection were headed west instead of east just hours after these things had come to pass, what power could our distant memory of these events have to get us moving in the right direction?

The paschal events thus must themselves have the power to come forward in history, or they cannot accomplish what we need them to. This of course is the lesson of Emmaus. Before Emmaus, the empty tomb was confusing to the disciples. They did not know what to do. After Emmaus, confusion gives way to excitement that Jesus Christ is truly Risen, which means he is eager to visit his disciples. Being a Christian, then, cannot be a figuring out on our part what to do in response to a past event; no, it is an excitement of being visited by One who wishes to live his paschal events anew in us, and with us and through us.

We receive the Eucharist, then on Mother's Day, and we rejoice rightly now with Mary, mother of the Eucharist. For unlike the disciples on the road to Emmaus, our mother Mary was, is and will always be excited to show us how to be visited by Jesus. After someone in the crowd shouted 'Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that nursed you' Jesus gave his mother higher praise by saying 'Rather, blessed is the one who hears the word of God and observes it.' Jesus then teaches us how to honor all of our mothers, of course by praying for them and their vocation, of course by remembering to thank them for the irreplaceable and irreducible love that they have shown us, but most of all, by asking Mary the spiritual mother of us all to lead us in a fruitful reception this Sunday of the Holy Eucharist. What better thing could we do for our mothers than to receive the Eucharist with the same burning hearts of those first disciples? Mary, the pattern and perfection of motherhood, and of every Christian, always corrects those of us who might come to Mass proudly as one of the many things we need to do, toward her humble excitement that Jesus will acoomplish more in us, with us, and through us, that we could possibly hope for or imagine, if only we allow it to be done to us according to His word. May all mothers be blessed by Mary today, and like her help us to trust in God, and to remain with her on that beautiful path of suffering love that begets life that is stronger than death. Amen.

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