Today’s Gospel recalls an incident on the first Easter morning. We are all, am sure, familiar with it. The Israelites have been in Jerusalem to celebrate the Old Testament Passover and now they are making their way back to their respective cities and homes. As we hear in the Gospel, among those making the trip back home was two of Jesus disciples, one named Cleopas.
As they walk down the road to Emmaus, these two disciples are grieving. We can just imagine how slow and downcast they must have been walking. Like we heard of Thomas last week, they had been truly traumatized by what they had seen and experienced; they are really without hope.
It is then in our Gospel, that we hear that Jesus Himself begins to accompany them for a few miles in their journey. They for their part don’t even recognize He who they had followed; perhaps, this is because they have been so wounded by the past week’s events—it is hard to see clearly when you are in great pain, especially the pain of the death of someone you love.
Next, Our Blessed Lord begins to question them; His questioning is really all about their hopelessness. He begins to explain how everything that happened during Holy Week had been predicted of the true Messiah. He begins to give them a sermon on the Scriptures, explaining how the Scriptures not only pointed to the Messiah’s suffering and death, but also to His resurrection from the dead.
Having arrived at their destination, their minds and hearts having been touched and taught by Jesus’ explanation of the scriptures, the two disciples asked Jesus to stay with them. Jesus accepts their invitation. And while at table with them, Jesus takes the bread, blesses it, breaks it, and gives it to them; in other words, Jesus offers the Holy Mass for them. It is at Holy Mass for the first time, during the breaking of the bread, that their eyes are opened and they recognize the risen Lord, as the true and living God before them. I am sure, like Thomas in last weeks Gospel that they too fall on their knees and cry out, “My Lord and My God!”
By the way, why does Jesus disappear before their eyes. He vanishes from their sight because He has changed the bread and wine into Himself in the Holy Eucharist. No less present to the disciples, His risen glorified human body has now become visible only through the eyes of faith in the Holy Eucharist that is before them. In other words, His visible presence passes into the Eucharist, but His physical presence remains with them still in the Eucharist.
Leaving the Holy Mass, the disciples go on to Jerusalem and recount to the others what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of bread…Breaking of the Bread” has then been one of the most ancient names for the Holy Mass. From the earliest times of the Church, whenever we hear this term it is always referring to the Holy Mass, and only the Holy Mass. Never is it used to refer to a mere communal meal or only as a coming together in fellowship. Today’s Gospel is then at once both a theological description of Holy Mass and a poetic description of the Holy Mass.
The Events on the Road to Emmaus have always been seen as a description of the parts of the Holy Mass. The first part of the disciples’ journey is comparable to the first half of the Mass, the Liturgy of the Word. Through the bible readings, the first and second reading, the responsorial psalm, the Gospel and the sermon or homily, Christ the living Lord becomes spiritually present in our midst and teaches us, if we prayerfully listen, how to recognize Him. Jesus “walks” with us and opens our minds to the truths of the scriptures which point to Him as the true God still really and truly among us.
The Liturgy of the Eucharist, the second half of the Mass, is Jesus coming and staying with us, not just spiritually, but substantially, in His True Risen body. This occurs through the power of the priesthood He Himself instituted on Holy Thursday. In, through and with the person of the priest, Jesus again takes the bread, blesses and breaks it and says, “This Is MY Body!” And when Jesus-God says, “It is,” then literally it becomes, It is.
And so, if we have listen attentively to Jesus words in Sacred Scripture, we too will recognize Jesus, His risen body, His whole self, in the breaking of the bread…This is my Body…This is my blood. And if we have recognized Him and His risen body truly present in the Eucharist through the eyes of faith, our eyes are open as well to “recognize Jesus.”.
Before this great “Mystery of our Faith,” in which Jesus comes to us and gives Himself to us in Holy Communion, Our response can only be, like the disciples, to fall on our knees before our Lord and Our God and ask Him to, “Stay with us,” by adore Him and offering ourselves to Him in Return. In this we ask Him to, “Stay with us,” so that our Communion with Him the Holy Eucharist may bear the fruit of our becoming one with Him in a union of Love.
With our faith and adoration of the Holy Eucharist, Jesus and the power of His sacrifice and resurrection, which is the power of love, will enter into our lives through our Sacred communion with Him. as we partake of this His risen body and blood in the breaking of the bread, which is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we will become one with Him, our hearts will “Burn with Him, our wounds will be healed, our hope restored
The Eucharist has the power to heal us and transform us into the light of Christ for the entire world—It is the power of the Easter which continues to Renew the whole world. (don’t be deceived, don’t be like the disciples on the Road to Emmaus before they encounter Jesus in the Holy Eucharist—don’t be downcast without faith—You and I have encountered and continue to encounter the Risen Lord. The world is still being renewed by the Holy Eucharist who is-the Risen Lord among us—-the world is not without Hope, but it is up to you and I to bring it Hope by the Eucharist Jesus and His love burning within us. Christus resurrexit! Resurrexit vere! Christ is Risen! He is Truly Risen! And He is truly present in His Risen Body in the Breaking of the Bread, which is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass!
Let us turn to the Mother of God for Help.
Dear Blessed Mother, Mother of Mercy—Mother of the Holy Eucharist, help us, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus that first Easter morning, come to know infallibly that God is not dead but lives and desires to enter into our lives through the Sacraments of the Church, especially through the Most Blessed of all Sacraments.. Help us like those disciples come to know intimately Jesus, through the “the Breaking of the Bread,” the Holy Mass, and to fall on our knees and adore and love Him truly present there by offering Him, through You, all that we have and all that we are. Totus Tuus Mary, I am totally yours. Amen.