Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Distressing Disguise

“And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.” Luke 24: 15-16

The story of Jesus appearing to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus is one of the most powerful, more popular stories we hear about every year during the Easter Season. It is amazing because Jesus came up to them, asked what they were talking about, walked and talked with them and the whole time they didn’t recognize Him until He broke the bread (the Eucharist).

How often in our world today does Christ draw near to you and me? Do we see Him or do we fail to recognize His presence among us? Perhaps we have a pre-conceived notion of what Christ looks like. But I think Christ comes to us each day in the most distressing of disguises. Not to fool us, but to help us to grow in humility, meekness, selflessness and charity. He is NOT what we are expecting.

He comes to us in the poor, the hurting, the sorrowful, yes. But He also comes to us in the ones that annoy us or hurt us. He comes to us in the normal, humdrum events of each day: taking out the garbage, washing the dishes, doing our homework, talking with a friend—He is there. He greets us in the morning when we look in the mirror and throughout the day in a myriad of ways. And He is with us to end our day in the silent darkness of night. He is found in drug addicts and alcoholics, prostitutes and the homeless. He is in foster care and abortion clinics, mental hospitals and day care centers. He is even in courtrooms, government buildings and castles. And if we look hard enough He can even be found on battlefields and in the midst of terrorism, violence and hatred.

So if Jesus is EVERYWHERE, how come we fail to recognize Him so often?

Perhaps because we fail to recognize Him in the Eucharist. A recent CARA poll suggests that 91% of Catholics who attend Mass every week believe that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist. That’s the good news. The bad news is that only 23% of Catholics go to Mass every week; when you factor in monthly Mass goers or those who only attend a couple times per year, the percentage who believe in the Real Presence drops dramatically. If we really recognized the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, we would be flocking to Mass and worshipping with reverence and humility. But if we aren’t recognizing Him here—in the Source and Summit of our Faith—how can expect to see Him in others? And without the grace that comes to us from the Eucharist, how can we expect to treat others the way Christ commands us?

When the disciples on the road to Emmaus finally recognized Jesus they realized that His words had been burning in the hearts and they were then inflamed to share their encounter with Jesus with others. The more we recognize Jesus in the Eucharist, the more our hearts will be engulfed by His love and the more we will desire to share about our encounter with Him to all we meet.

Dear Jesus, help me to recognize You in the Eucharist more and more, so that I can have the grace to recognize You in others and love them as You do. Amen.

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