Open Your Eyes to Real Happiness
The disciples in this past Sunday’s Gospel left Jerusalem to return to their home seven miles away, and as they walked along, they talked about how they were distraught at the death of Jesus in whom they had placed all their hope. They didn’t recognize Jesus when he joined them on the way and asked what they were talking about. They were surprised when this stranger didn’t know what had happened in Jerusalem. So Jesus interpreted for them all that referred to him in the Scriptures.
The disciples had been with Jesus for three years and heard him preach and saw him work miracles. He also explained clearly in his preaching that he had to die and rise from the dead, but no one, including his closest friends, understood his message because it seemed impossible.
Jesus, Help Us Believe
Jesus expects his followers to believe in him and all his teachings on the merit of his divine revelation which includes the Scriptures and the teachings of his Church; through the centuries many have, but not all. As Jesus promised, he is with us always, but some will not believe until they experience something that they recognize as supernatural. In his humility, Jesus sometimes provides unmistakable miracles to help us believe, as in the breaking of the bread for his disciples. He has also provided numerous Eucharistic miracles throughout the world where the host has turned into flesh and the consecrated wine into blood that has been scientifically proven to be human.
Actually, for me, one of the most convincing aspects of our faith is the lives of the saints. All throughout history there have been heroic men and women who have been witnesses of the same faith that we profess together every Sunday. They were the happiest people on earth even though almost all of them endured great hardships or frail health, and some, martyrdom. Reading their lives is an education on how God works in the lives of those who love him and a source of encouragement. In order for a saint to be canonized miracles have to occur through their intercession and be proven through many studies. This is a testimony to how they found favor with God.
However, the majority of miracles happen every day in the lives of those who truly trust in God and his providence.
The Most Powerful Moment of the Day
The question for us as we reflect on this Gospel is, do we recognize Jesus in the many ways he comes to us? Have you ever heard someone say that the Mass is boring? Anyone who would say that has missed the presence of God. At every Mass, Jesus is present in four ways.
- He is present in each of us if we are in a state of grace, that is free from serious sin.
- He is present in his Word as it is proclaimed. We should listen as if we were listening to Jesus himself. He has something to say to each of us at every Mass.
- He is also present in his priest who is presiding in his name. By the power of the Holy Spirit Jesus makes present to us on the altar his passion, death, and resurrection and through his priest, he changes Bread and wine into his own body and blood.
- The fourth way he is present is in the Holy Eucharist.
So, if someone is bored at Mass, they have missed the most powerful moment of the day. What happens at Mass is real, if we miss it, it is our fault, not the Lord’s.
Find Real Happiness
Besides this supernatural presence at Mass, Jesus makes himself present to us in many ways throughout the day. Actually, he is present every moment because he promises to be with us always and he keeps all his promises.
However, it’s good to pray for an awareness of his presence throughout the day, especially in our temptations and trials because he promises to lighten our burdens if we ask.
In my early adult years, there was an extended time when I was very selfish and prone to serious sin. Even at that time, I would go to Sunday Mass and occasionally to confession when I had committed a mortal sin so that I could go to Holy Communion. At least that much stayed with me from twelve years of Catholic education, but it wasn’t enough to get me to commit my life to Christ. I had no idea that God was interested in me personally and had a plan for my life. It took a number of years and significant spiritual experiences to draw me out of my routine of living for myself and realizing that life was more about peace and hope than personal pleasure. I came to understand that there is no real happiness when we are not connected to God, and our greatest possibility of being connected to God is in the Church he founded and the sacraments that make it possible to have an intimate relationship with Jesus. However, the sacraments are not for our convenience but for our commitment. The sacraments make it possible for us to remain in the state of grace so the Holy Spirit can influence our decisions so that we can be courageous in the way we live our lives. We are courageous when we are willing to do the things that we know we can only do with God’s help.
Keep Your Eyes Open for God’s Presence
So now, what are we willing to do to help us be aware of the presence of God and his eternal love and mercy? What has worked for the saints through the ages will work for us; remaining in the state of grace by frequent sacramental confession, attending Mass every weekend to worship God, and also during the week if possible. By spending time in the Eucharistic presence of Jesus, just to be with him. By reading the Scriptures every day and spending significant time in prayer personally and with the family, also being a good steward of all the Lord has given us. Because Jesus is faithful to his promises, we can know without a doubt that he is with us at every moment, especially when we are going through troubled times.
As the saints have done before us, let us hold fast to the faith that has been handed on to us for our own happiness and the fulfillment of our call to share our faith with others.
Deacon Tom Fox, C.K.H.S. is Co-Founder & Co-Director of Pilgrim Center of Hope with his wife, Mary Jane Fox. The two left their careers after a profound conversion experience and began working full-time in ministry at their parish in 1986. After several years and having impacted tens of thousands of families, the Foxes founded Pilgrim Center of Hope in 1993 as a response to the Church’s call for a New Evangelization. Deacon Tom is an invested member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, a Commander Knight of the Holy Sepulchre.
Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. See what’s happening & let us journey with you! Visit PilgrimCenterOfHope.org.
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