Year B, Third Sunday of Easter

Jesus is Known in the Breaking of the Bread

May 7, 2000


Ronald D. Curley

Text: The Holy Gospel According to Saint Luke 24: 35-48

Whenever I entered a new pastorate for several years I would always tend to go to this passage for reason I did not understand until after I became a fully confirmed Roman Catholic. This passage seems to draw me as no other passage does with its reference to the breaking of the Bread with those two disciples at a house in Emmaus. Jesus, risen from the dead, met them on the road.

Two had been traveling on the road to Emmaus, perhaps, Mary of Cleopas and Cleopas, when Jesus joined with them in travel.

When they arrived at the village, they invited Jesus into their house, where Jesus took Bread and gave it to them, after blessing it and breaking it. It was then that their eyes were opened, and THEY KNEW HIM... then, and only then, he vanished out of their sight.

Within an hour they quickly returned to Jerusalem to proclaim this event to the disciples!

35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

That is the second time this "known to them" in the context of breaking Bread is noted by St. Luke. How this draws me into the Eucharistic necessity of our Most Holy Catholic Faith.

It is in the breaking of the Bread that Jesus is known beloved of God.

This is further born out by the words,

36 As they were saying this, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, "Peace to you."

As they spoke of "how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread," then Jesus suddenly appeared in their midst, as he had vanished from their sight at their house in Emmaus!

37 But they were startled and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit.

38 And he said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do questionings rise in your hearts?

Things we do not comprehend easily startle us.

God does something new and startling, like defeating the enemy, death, and we are alarmed and startled over this. We try to explain it by terms we may understand - "It's a spirit!, a ghost!"

But, Jesus asks, "Why are you troubled, and why do questionings rise in your hearts?"

We need Jesus to ask this question of us when we question him and are startled.

Then he brings us back to his hands and his feet, familiar items that are about his work on our behalf... we see Mercy's wounds. We are comforted by what we know to be familiar.

39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have."

40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.

41 And while they still disbelieved for joy, and wondered, he said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?"

42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate before them.

Handle me, then your eyes will be opened too like Mary of Cleopas' and those of Cleopas!.

Taste and see that the Lord is good, because he is present in our midst.

How perfectly we sense Jesus when we partake of him in the Holy Eucharist. What we have missed in the past, we may freely come and partake of, the Present Lord with us, when we eat this Bread and partake of the Cup.

Yes, and truly, the Lord shows us that he is also in the Liturgy of the Word. The two must go hand in hand, for there must be that catechesis before the Holy Eucharist to prepare the mind and soul, the heart of the people of God for the reception of the Word who became Flesh and dwelled amongst us and we beheld his glory, the glory of the Only Begotten of the Father.

He speaks to us and them of the Scriptures.

He opens with the first words of Deuteronmy, whose Hebrew title means "These are the words..." (ella hadebraim).

A greater than Moses speaks now, the Risen Lord Jesus Christ who proclaims anew.

44 Then he said to them, "These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled."

The Law, the Prophets and the Psalms (Writing), the three parts of the Old Testament - all of it - speaks of Jesus all point to Christ.

45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures,

46 and said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead,

47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

48 You are witnesses of these things.

There was a time when I focused upon just the Holy Scriptures alone... a sola scriptura understanding. Yet, I knew there was more than just words... there had to be the Living Word... the Broken Bread, the Presence of Jesus in the Host, the Eucharist.

It is this -- "these are the words" that must bring us to the experience and reality of, "...that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things."

It is not enough to just have knowledge in the head of these things. It is also essential that we experience Jesus Christ in the faith that comes to us through the Holy Eucharist and the Presence of Christ.

Every time we meet, we meet around the liturgy of the Word of God and the liturgy of the Eucharist to partake of Christ more fully to be transformed by his Presence.

The Holy Father said at the 1994 Synod of Bishops on Consecrated Life in the Church (September 29, 1994) - "We have often presented the Church as a "priestly" people, i.e., comprising persons who share in Christ's priesthood as a state of consecration to God and offering the perfect, definitive worship he gives to the Father in the name of all humanity. This is a result of Baptism, which inserts the believer into Christ's Mystical Body and appoints him - almost 'ex officio' and, one could say, in an institutional way - to reproduce in himself the condition of Priest and Victim ('Sacerdos et Hostia') of the Head." (cf. St. Thomas's Summa, III, q. 63, a. 3 in c. and ad 2; a. 6.)

Sensing a little of what the Holy Father is saying here -- When we come to the Liturgies of the Word and Eucharist, and we draw near to God as Baptized Christians, and we partake of our Lord's Body and Blood with all this event stands for in the Mind of God the Holy Trinity - we are united to Christ more deeply than we may ever understand upon the earth.

There is much to be realized in our Life in Christ when we try to consider and practice, my beloved, the words of Saint Paul's exhortation along with the words of the Holy Father and our experience of the Liturgies of the Word and Eucharist -- "Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus..."

I sense here that Cleopas and Mary and all the disciples started to "see" with ever more clarity the immensity of their "witness" as the Day of Pentecost was approaching as they broke the Bread amongst themselves and came to know and teach that Jesus is Known in the Breaking of the Bread.

Deus et Sanctissima.