Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
April 28, 2008
Embrace Christ in the Eucharist – Smith
Archbishop tells CWL society can find meaning, hope, in the risen Jesus
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Western society is as hopeless, directionless and disappointed as were the two disciples on the road to Emmaus following Jesus' death, says Archbishop Richard Smith.
And he suggests society can find hope and purpose the same way the disciples did - by encountering Jesus.
"The disciples on the road to Emmaus were disappointed, but all of that changed when they encountered the risen Lord (in the Eucharist)," the archbishop of Edmonton told members of the Arch-diocese's Catholic Women's League.
"And it was a change from directionlessness to direction and purpose because after their encounter with Christ, they were given direction."
Smith was the guest speaker at the league's annual convention at Lloydminster's Stockade Convention Centre. Embracing Christ through the Eucharist was the title of his April 19 talk. Some 175 delegates and guests from across the Edmonton Archdiocese attended the weekend event.
"To embrace Christ through the Eucharist means necessarily to embrace our identity in him; the identity that is ours in him," the archbishop told convention delegates.
"To embrace Christ through the Eucharist is to embrace the Church precisely as his body, in which we have become members because of our union in him. And to embrace Christ through the Eucharist is to embrace our participation in his mission (of bringing God saving love to all)."
The archbishop compared the current situation in Western society to that of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35).
Western society lacks meaning and direction - just as the disciples did before they encountered Christ in the Eucharist. The hopelessness that the two disciples experienced before encountering the risen Jesus is similar to the hopelessness pervading today's society.
On the road to the village of Emmaus, about 11 km from Jerusalem, the disciples were talking with each other about everything that had happened. Jesus came up and walked along with them, but they were kept from recognizing him.
They recognized him later at the table when he broke bread and began to give it to them. They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem, where they found the 11 and those with them, assembled together and saying, "It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon."
This story speaks powerfully to our current situation as individuals, the archbishop said. A common hope for every human person is to arrive at a destination that we call happiness. "Every human being longs to be happy."
There is also another desired destination - truth. "Every human being wants to be led through life by what is real, by what's true."
But in Western society today people seek to get to those destinations through fame, personal success, wealth and possessions. "When they think they have arrived, they don't feel happy."
The same thing happens with truth. Perhaps the most dramatic and challenging aspect of Western society is relativism, Smith said, quoting Pope Benedict.
"We are living in what he calls post-modern society, a society which no longer accepts that there is anything called objective truth," he said. "(There is) no longer anything called universal moral standard outside of myself to which I must conform my life - I make my own rules."
Perhaps the most dramatic example in recent years has been the debate over the nature of marriage. "They were even saying that marriage is not something rooted in nature, not something that pre-exists the courts and the state but rather something that I can manipulate in court through my own means and my own will and redefine it to suit myself."
The two disciples on the road to Emmaus represent this particular situation in which Western society finds itself, Smith said, noting the disciples lacked a clear destination and were hopeless.
"Life today is filled with disappointed folks . . . we are not able to find happiness in anything . . . and we are not able to focus upon anything which we know objectively is true and right and real," the archbishop said.
"The human being searching for truth in such a situation is bound to be in disappointment."
Together with the disappointments that flow from the nature of Western society "we have disappointed hopes," continued Smith. "Perhaps we had hoped to have a particular career in life; perhaps we have disappointed hopes in our marriages and in our relationships."
The disciples on the road to Emmaus were equally disappointed "but all of that changed when they encountered the risen Lord, when they encountered him precisely in the breaking of the bread," the archbishop said.
Through their encounter with Jesus, the unhappy and disappointed disciples found happiness, he said.
"They who had been walking around in search of meaning had found truth and they had found it in Jesus. And their happiness (was even greater) when they realized that this Jesus who had died for them was not only risen and alive, but was with them. He was there."
He was present to the disciples in the same way he is present to us in the Eucharist.
"So embracing this truth of Christ in the Eucharist gives us hope, gives us joy, gives us meaning and gives us direction."