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Saturday, December 3, 2016
Text: Fr Brendan Callaghan SJ at Church of the Assumption
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¬†Fr.Brendan Callaghan SJ gave the following homily yesterday at the Mass for LGBT Catholics, parents and families at the Church of the Assumption, Warwick Street, London W1 "We had hoped" they say, these two on their way to Emmaus ≠ and maybe those words capture something that touches each of us. We had hoped ≠ each of us - for so much, and now maybe it all seems to be in the past. We had, at some point, a glimpse of glory ≠ an insight into what we might be, what we could achieve, what might be given us ≠ and now? Today's Gospel is the longest and the most detailed of the accounts of the meetings between the risen Jesus and those who had been his followers, those who had been with him right up to what they saw as the end ≠ "we had hoped" they say. But it is still a short story, and somehow Luke manages to compress into this small space an amazing richness. People who don't know the Scriptures of the New Testament often presume that they are full of people who are impossibly good, living lives that are impossibly full of faith. What are we given today? Two people who had given up, two people who had left the community of which they had been part, two people who were heading home, getting out of Jerusalem while they still could, two people who were confused, two people whose whole futures were now unclear, two people who had become, in a moment, for a time, to some degree, unbelievers. Two people who, in a way, might be seen as the first "lapsed Catholics." (And at this point I can speak for myself only).two people who might seem to have some characteristics we recognise in ourselves. But, at the same time, two people whose hearts were 'still in the right place' ≠ as our odd English idiom has it ≠ two people who in the midst of their confusion and disappointment and lost hopes and unbelief still had longings and beliefs that they could not relinquish, a love that they could not deny without denying who they were. "We had hoped", they say, and in those words they say something about themselves as they are now ≠ as they speak ≠ and not just about how they had been in the past. They had met Jesus, and their hearts had been touched, their lives had been changed, and they could not forget that. "We had hoped" Really to meet Jesus was and is to know that the deepest longings of our hearts are not illusory. Really to meet Jesus was and is to be touched at a level that makes it clear that the yearning to love and to be loved, the yearning for belonging within a community of care, concern and happiness, the yearning to find within ourselves both a real and lived compassion for everyone and a real and lived recognition of our own intrinsic goodness ≠ all these are not romanticism running out of control but echoes of the glory that is true human living ≠ truly human living. So the "Emmaus Two" had been transformed. And yet they had walked out on the community of the followers of Jesus ≠ they were most likely heading for "deep cover", out reach of the Temple police or the spies of the Sanhedrin. We might just find ourselves asking how this was possible ≠ how they could do such a thing after such a transformation? But we need to realise that what they had in their lives was nothing different to what we have in our lives, what they did in their lives was nothing different to what we do in our lives. Because when we recognise that at least in some ways the Emmaus two are just like us, then today's gospel of an event, a meeting that took place two thousand years ago can speak most powerfully to us of an event, a meeting that takes place now, here, today. How does Jesus respond to these two? He doesn't write them off ≠ he comes to join them; He doesn't tell them to turn round immediately and go back to Jerusalem ≠ he walks the way they are walking; He doesn't tell them off ≠ he challenges them and helps them understand what they already knew but hadn't allowed themselves to believe; He doesn't exclude them, but shows them, in the breaking of the bread, that they are with him and he is with them. As it was for the first disciples of Jesus, so it is for us: Jesus comes to meet us even when we think we are keeping our distance or even heading away from him; Jesus walks with us as we slowly find our true way; Jesus opens our hearts and minds to recognise more deeply what we already knew but hardly dared believe; In the breaking of the bread Jesus shows us that we are with him and he is with us. Let's pray that we can find the time and the space to allow ourselves to recognise that all this is true: to dare to believe that Jesus looks into our hearts, deeper than we dare look ourselves, and finds there a longing for the life of God's kingdom, not just as something in the future but as a way we can live here and now. "We had hoped" ≠ that's true of the Emmaus disciples and it's true of us. In Jesus God sees our hope, and loves us. As we share in the breaking of the bread, let us ask the Risen Jesus for the gift of feeling our own hearts burn within us as we recognise him not just in the sacrament of the altar, but in the sacram
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