Jesus is still with us – in the Eucharist, in the Spirit that dwells within us, and in our loving encounters with one another

Today’s first reading describes a scene in the Temple. It happens in Solomon’s Portico just after Peter has cured the lame man. As the man leaps for joy, a very large crowd gathers (later reports put the number at three thousand). Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, declares that it is God who has worked this miracle, and that what they have seen is another proof that the man, Jesus, whom they crucified, was truly God’s Son. We can imagine how those words must have pierced many hearts with terrifying guilt. They were the ones who had cried, “Crucify Him!” just a short time ago. Memories of God’s terrible punishments in years past must have crowded their minds. What were they to do? Peter’s words reassure them. Since they acted out of ignorance, God offers them salvation if they repent and believe. They must be baptized in His Name, and in the Father and the Holy Spirit. And they must spread the Word. This is the mission of every follower of Jesus!

The Gospel is even more exciting! Scene One takes place in the upper room, where the two disciples, to whom Jesus appeared on their way to Emmaus, have just returned, breathless and bursting with the news that Jesus is alive. The two disciples on the road to Emmaus were privileged to walk with the Lord Jesus and experience His wisdom, compassion and mercy. They got to know Him through the breaking of the bread. Once they had experienced the powerful presence of the Lord at the table in Emmaus they could hardly contain themselves. They ran back to Jerusalem to tell the apostles what they had seen and heard. Even as they speak, Jesus suddenly appears to the whole assembly, throwing them into consternation and fear. With powerful persuasion, Jesus convinces them that He is not a spirit, but a human person, very alive. He asks them for something to eat. They give Him a piece of baked fish which He eats in their presence!

We, like the two disciples, are given a tremendous gift when we experience the real and substantial presence of the Lord in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. In that powerful Sacrament, Jesus gives us everything that He can possibly give, His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. The greater news is that Jesus is still with us – in the Eucharist, in the Spirit that dwells within us, and in our loving encounters with one another. He is here in our sorrows, supporting and strengthening us, keeping us on the journey that will inevitably lead to fullness of life, if only we are faithful. May we always remember that the gift of the Eucharist is given to us as stewards. We are to pass on to others the Lord whom we receive by bringing to the world His love, compassion and mercy. We are called to be witnesses. May we do so with clarity and integrity.

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