Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Homilies


"Christ is the Joy of Our Hearts"
Homily for Easter Sunday
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
April 22, 2012
Year B


My first assignment as a newly ordained priest was to obtain an advanced degree in Religious Education from the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. While going to school I was living at a parish just north of the University in Maryland. Every Friday, the pastor and I had some sort of fish for dinner and if there were any leftovers he would nuke it for breakfast on Saturday morning. The entire house would be filled with the less-than-appetizing aroma of leftover fish. One day, I said to him: “you know, Father, most normal people eat cereal or eggs or something like that for breakfast – you know, regular breakfast food.” He replied: “hey, Jesus ate fish for breakfast and so can I!”
Today’s gospel continues the story of the Road to Emmaus but now Jesus appears to all the disciples, including the two with whom He spoke along the way. These were the two whose hearts were “burning within” them and now Jesus asks: “why do questions arise in your hearts?” The heart is a major theme in Luke’s Gospel. A reference is made to the heart in chapters 1, 3, 6, 8, 12, 16, and here, chapter 24. The reference here indicates that Jesus has the ability to read hearts and so He knows what they are thinking. That which is striking is the notion that questions arise in the hearts of the disciples, not in their minds, as if the heart has a mind all of its own. Naturally questions arise in their hearts because it is in the heart that lies belief. They knew in their minds that Jesus was alive; they had seen him. Their hearts were not there yet. They were skeptical, confused, and even terrified. Yet, in the midst of it all Jesus shows Himself to them and even though they are still a little doubtful, they are overcome with joy because they were now able to recognize Christ in their midst.

Three hundred years ago, the French physicist Blaise Pascal wrote: “the heart has reasons that reason cannot comprehend.” This seems to be true. For example, as I was driving home from vacation the other day, I was listening to the radio and I happened upon a comedy channel. The comedian was relating events that surrounded the death of his grandmother and his childhood growing up Catholic. His routine was not very funny to me; it rather was very telling. I tuned in towards the end of his spiel, so I didn’t get the whole bit, however, he was talking about religion and how it is something that takes away from the normal fear of death. Catholicism in particular offers the prospect of something of joyous – it makes death something not to be feared but rather something joyful, something to look forward to. It was his own mother who offered words of consolation: “grandma is in a better place, she is looking down on us and smiling, she no longer suffers,” and so on. His grandmother, he noted, was a devout catholic and in the wake of her death, he felt drawn to this religion – in which he was brought up – to find out why she was so taken by it. He found himself going to church 2-3 times per week, just sitting in the pew. He found card in the back addressed to Catholics who had fallen away that stated: “Welcome Back.” He imagined going to confession after 29 years. In the end, his problem was that he could not, in his mind, reconcile his lifestyle with the feelings of his heart. His heart was obviously drawing him back to the Church. In his mind, however, he was not a believer. “It would be good,” he said, “for a person who believed, but I am not that person.” He had closed himself off to grace and therefore could not recognize that it was Christ inviting this man from within – in his heart. His grandmother, on the other hand, opened her heart to belief and it was that belief in her heart that enabled her to live her faith and so recognize Christ, calling her home to Himself.

We often find ourselves in situations like that of the lonely comedian or like the disciples. We feel within our hearts an attraction to Christ and the Church – its what keeps us coming back Sunday after Sunday. Very often, however we are doubtful of its credibility or perhaps we struggle with reconciling our own lives to the way in which the Church calls us to live. We can be easily confused by the secular world or persuaded by those who think they have all the answers – about life, morality, values, faith and religion. This makes it hard to recognize Christ in our daily lives. It makes it difficult to live our faith in the way in which Jesus calls us to – fully and freely.

In the midst of such confusion and negativity, Jesus stands in the center of it all and shows Himself to us. “The disciples recounted…how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.” He shows Himself to us in the form of bread and wine. Our ability to recognize Jesus comes from our hearts being open to the grace He gives us in the Eucharist. An openness of heart leads us from unbelief to faith, from doubt to certainty, fear to joy because in the Eucharist we recognize the Risen Lord in our midst.






Fr. Jon Reardon


Rev. Jonathan L. Reardon is a priest for the diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts.
He serves at Sacred Heart Parish in Pittsfield, MA.




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