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Bishop Kulich: The Most Important Thing That Can Happen To A Person

IRWIN, PENNSYLVANIA, June 12 — During a holy hour for the 35-members of the Immaculate Conception Youth Choir in Irwin, surrounded by more than 100 adults, Bishop Larry Kulich of Greensburg preached a homily to the children on the importance of meeting Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.

Here is a copy of the written remarks he prepared from the occasion, from which he regularly departed to illustrate points for the students.


In a recent homily, Pope Francis a group of young people, “Always remember this: life is a journey.  It is a path, a journey to meet Jesus.”  Today, we have with us pilgrims, people who are on a journey with Jesus and they have brought Him to us so that WE might also have an encounter with Him.  I am grateful to the witness of these pilgrims who are accompanying the Lord from Connecticut to Indianapolis over two months so that many others, such as ourselves here today, may meet Jesus.  In fact, the most important thing that can happen to a person is to meet Jesus: Jesus who loves us, who has saved us, who has given his life for us. 

We could ask ourselves the question: But when do I meet Jesus?  Is it only at the end of our life?  No!  We meet him every day.  He is here with us now: right here on the altar.  Jesus is present to us right now.  When you receive Communion, you meet Jesus in the Sacraments.  When you pray, you meet Jesus.   And if we are a Christian, then our whole life is an encounter, a journey with Jesus: in prayer, when we go to Mass, when we do good works, when we visit the sick, when we help the poor, when we think of others, when we are not selfish, when we are loving… in this we always meet Jesus.  And the journey of life is the journey to meet Jesus.

The readings we heard today are all about the journey of life.  In the first reading from Deuteronomy, Moses is speaking to the people who have spent their entire lives journeying in the desert in search of the Promised Land.  Moses tells the people that God has directed all their journeying, that God has directed their whole life.  Moses reminds the Israelites that God was always with them even in the difficult times.   In the desert, God fed the Israelites with manna, bread from heaven, in order that they would know his presence and be nourished. 

Today, God continues to feed us with bread from heaven, the Eucharist.  He gives us the Eucharist in which Jesus, God Himself, is always with us, even through difficult times.  When we are struggling with challenges, such as a difficult test in school or with a bully, this reading reminds us that God is always with us on our journey and we are never alone.  When things are challenging, when we are searching for meaning, we need to be nourished by the Eucharist and not allow ourselves to be distracted and journey away from Jesus, in the wrong direction.  While we might not always understand God’s plan for our lives, we are called to recognize that he is always present and we must grow closer to Him, closer to the Eucharist, to remain on the right path to reach the house of the Lord.

In today’s Gospel, we hear the story of two disciples on a journey.  These two people are dealing with the biggest struggle of their lives - they are mourning the death of Jesus and are trying to understand the empty tomb.  They are leaving town to get away from the sadness and confusion, but Jesus encounters them on the road.  Jesus journeys with them in their sadness and opens up the Scriptures to them.  They later report that as Jesus was walking with them on the journey, their hearts were burning as he spoke to them.  Again, the Lord is telling us he walks with us on our journey, even when we are struggling, even when we are finding it difficult to believe.  Unlike the manna in the first reading, in the Gospel story Jesus feeds them with the Eucharist, with Himself.  The disciples on the journey receive Jesus – the same Jesus who is present to us on the altar.  He is here on this altar because he wants to walk with us on our journey.  He wants us to bring our struggles, our challenges to Him.  He also wants us to bring Him our joys.  But most importantly, He is on this altar because he loves us so much that he wants to be one with us. 

One of the goals of this National Eucharistic Revival and specifically this National Eucharistic Pilgrimage, is for the people of our nation to remember that Jesus journeys with us in our everyday lives, that Jesus is never far from us, and to remind us that the Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith, that on this altar is really Jesus Himself.  This National Eucharistic Revival is a special time of encounter for all of us to meet Jesus.  Just as Jesus told His Apostles again and again, Jesus speaks to us: “Take courage, do not be afraid!”  Life is indeed a journey, and the most beautiful gift is to meet Jesus, who is on this altar today and whom we receive every time we receive Holy Communion at Mass.  Go forward, be brave in your journey of life because Jesus is always with you.  He will feed you with His Body and Blood.  You are never alone because God will be your nourishment and your strength.


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