Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization

"Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization"

Check out the revised edition of this exciting and unique prayer book, filled with prayers that are sure to nourish the soul as we undertake the New Evangelization.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Homily: expanded version of Third Sunday of Easter for Knights of Columbus Exemplification Mass May 3, 2014

I am delighted to introduce you to the many Knights of Columbus who are here with us today after our exemplification ceremony for the Fourth Degree in Aurora.  You the faithful of Saint Joseph parish are so kind to welcome all of us here as guests today. 


In return, I offer a brief explanation of who we are as Knights of Columbus and what being a Knight in the Church in the 21st Century really means. 


The best framework for sharing the vision of the Knights is to explore the four virtues of the Order: charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism. 



The Knights of Columbus was founded in the late 1800s in New Haven CT by Father Michael McGivney, a parish priest, to be an organization of Catholic men dedicated to the service of the Church and of widows and the sick who were without husbands and fathers or other family to care for them. 


The Knights continue to exemplify charity through service to the poor and needy of our world.  In our Catholic parishes and on the streets of our communities, where the Knights of Columbus thrives, there exists a living image of the love of Jesus in the midst of a hungering world. 






Knights are joined together from across the country and across the world as a global force for good in the name of the Lord.  The Knights are the most active and visible defenders of the truth of our Catholic faith and of the supreme right to life for all human persons from conception to natural death.  They are furthermore loyal supporters of our parishes, the Church’s bishops and priests and of prayer for vocations.  They understand so well how the Church cannot long endure without the guidance of holy shepherds. 



Brother Knights support each other in achieving their goals and attaining the holiness and virtue to which God calls them.  It is a good reminder for us as Knights to foster fraternity in all we do, to help fellow Knights to excel and rejoice in the success and blessings of others, remembering that all glory ultimately belongs to God.  As men of Catholic values, Knights are called to support each other as husbands and fathers and give example to all of the meaning of married love and family life. 



As members of the Fourth Degree, the new Knights who underwent their exemplification ceremony today commit themselves to being authentic patriots and faithful citizens.  Our country was founded by men who trusted in Divine Providence as they conceived a nation in liberty, a nation dedicated to belief in the equality of all and to the freedom of all men and women.  In this time of crisis and concern for all people of faith, we Christians and Americans need to look to the devotion of the Knights to God and country as a clarion call to rediscover the purpose of our nation’s founding.

These United States of America need leaders of integrity, who respect the rule of law, who honor above all the law of God, who defend the right to life, the freedom of religion and the protection of conscience. 


The Knights of Columbus is an organization with a purpose – to stand for truth in a radically counter-cultural way; to form and encourage gentlemen of faith, hope and love.  These are the kinds of husbands and father our world so desperately needs.  These are the kinds of priests our Church cannot live without out.  


For all these reasons and more, this is why we are Knights.


We are men on our journey to discover who God desires us to be for His sake, a journey of love for others, a journey of faith in Christ and Holy Mother Church, a journey of hope in His promise of eternal union with Himself. 


In January 2012, Dutch teenager Laura Decker completed a year-long, 27000 nautical-mile round-the-world solo voyage in a sailboat.  It was the journey of a lifetime and the realization of a dream for this young girl.  Along the way, she stopped to surf, scuba dive, go cliff diving and watch whales for the first time.  In an interview, Laura described how she learned a lot about herself.  It was a journey of encounter – with her deepest self, with interesting people and with God’s creation – and a journey of discovery.  It was a journey of hope and hopelessness, of fear and excitement. 


Every one of us here is on a journey of discovery – struggling at times to follow the Lord and yearning for the ultimate goal of Heaven – and a journey of encounters, with God and others, encounters that daily form and shape who we are.

Today’s Gospel is the story of a famous journey that leads to a life-changing encounter.  Saint Paul reminds us in the second reading that our Christian life is an experience of sojourning. 


The disciples on the road to Emmaus learn through their mysterious meeting with the Lord that the Cross and grave, which have been a source of scandal and sorrow, are in reality the instruments of their salvation. 


The two men are despondent, for all their hopes and dreams have been shattered.  Jesus wasn’t the Messiah after all, they conclude after witnessing His suffering and death. 


All the disciples are filled with confusion and fear, they hide for a while in the upper room and eventually return to fishing.  Jesus appears to them in several different times and places – the upper room, along the road, by the sea – and yet they struggle to understand Him.


The sadness of the Crucifixion erased form the disciples’ minds and memories the teaching of Jesus that He must suffer, die…and RISE on the third day!


Saint Augustine goes so far as to say that the disciples could learn a lesson from the good thief who was sentenced to die alongside the Lord.  Even though he was a convicted criminal, he had enough of a sense of faith to perceive that Jesus, the crucified Lord, the dying Messiah, the immolated High Priest, would be His ultimate salvation and freedom.  What the thief, at rock bottom in his life and searching for hope, grasped, the disciples in their fear and self-preservation could not understand.  It must happen this way!

Once it is revealed to the two men in Emmaus that it has been Jesus whom they have been conversing with, they realize that He is alive and thus come to understand what He had taught them before – He must first die and then rise in order to save them from sin.  Everything in Scripture points to Him and to His dying as the purpose of His incarnate life. 


It was necessary for the Christ to suffer and so enter into His glory, having won for all mankind the glorious liberation for which the prophets of old had longed. 


Through our encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist, we too are made sharers in His Word and in His Flesh and Blood with the members of the Body of Christ throughout the world.  Jesus transforms our hopeless hearts…our hearts full of fear and confusion at times… into hearts burning with love and zeal for Him and for our faith.  As the Church established by Christ on the foundation of the Apostles and redeemed by His sacrifice, we become a global community of missionaries sent to proclaim the Gospel by teaching the faith and by the witness of our lives. 


It is for this that we are Catholics, baptized and redeemed, nourished and sent forth to share with the world the good news that we have seen the Lord and He is alive!


This is the good news that gives us hope when we are tossed about by the waters of the storms of life, when we are afraid and confused.  We have seen the Lord and He is alive and His suffering and rising have set us free!


And so, rise up o men of God!  Rise up, O Church!  Be done with the lesser things of the world and proclaim the goodness of the Lord!