Thursday, March 15, 2007

Keep the Fire Burning

“Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?” If any of you were at the 5 p.m. Mass last Saturday, you experienced along with the rest of us there the incredible power of the Holy Spirit working in and through our young people! Last Saturday’s Mass was the closing Mass to our Walk to Emmaus Confirmation Retreat, and the effect that it had on our youth, and on all those present was truly amazing and a work of the Holy Spirit.

I created this retreat almost 10 years ago now along with the help of other youth ministers in my former parish in New Hampshire. Based on its name, you can probably guess that it takes as its motivation the post-resurrection story of the disciples walking along the road headed to a town of Emmaus. While walking they encounter the Risen Jesus, although they do not yet know it is He. Jesus meets them where they are at, and then shares Scripture with them and breaks the bread. The result? “With that, their eyes were opened and they recognized him.” And this is the same result of our retreat. And, for anyone at last Saturday’s Mass – you could feel just that. All those who were on retreat truly had their eyes opened and the recognized Jesus in their midst – perhaps some for the very first time in their lives.

But, as I continue to sit in the incredible wonder of our retreat experience, as I look upon the brightened faces of our young people who have encountered Jesus and want to follow Him, as I read the emails from many of you, our parishioners, both young and old, so touched by the Mass, my heart is overjoyed with the goodness of the Lord for all of us. It is energizing!

The beauty is that while we are lifted up sharing this experience together, it isn’t one that is only for a retreat, or only for the youth. We all have the opportunity to meet Jesus in the same way; to let Him set our hearts on fire with love; to allow our “eyes to be opened and recognize him;” to walk away from our encounter saying, “Were not our hearts burning within us?”

The story of Emmaus is also the story of our Mass. We come journeying along the road from our various places in life – some of us joyful and happy, some of us struggling and sad, many of us a little of both or somewhere in between. But, Jesus today and every day wants to meet us where we are at; to take on our struggles and challenges; and to open us up to a new possibility by being fed on both the Word of Sacred Scripture, and His Body and Blood.

Let us pray today that the fire that was lit in the hearts of our young people last weekend will be a wildfire that will spread to each and every one of us; let us pray that our eyes will be opened, our ears will hear that God is truly, fully in our midst. Let us recognize Him and continue to grow in His ways each and every day.

Let us pray, Come, Holy Spirit, and enkindle within us the fire of Your love!

Love, Fr. Tom

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