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3RD SUNDAY OF EASTER: IT IS ABOUT JESUS.

Two lines in today’s gospel weave the entire episode together as Jesus continues his appearance to the disciples and mandates them on their next line of action. In this encounter, we see what appears to be both the starting point of their ministry and the mandate for apostolic mission. Jesus makes himself known in the breaking of bread. Then he demand of them, “You are witnesses of these things." The post-resurrection leitmotif of breaking of bread by the community of believers is particularly noteworthy in Luke, making it characteristic of his representation of how the community was reunited (Luke 9:16; 22:19; 24:30, 35; Acts 2:42, 46; 20:7,11; 27:35).


The Emmaus disciples return with a powerful testimony of their encounter with the risen Lord. The message is clear, Jesus is made known to them in the breaking of the bread. They come back with the story, their eyes having been opened by that transforming encounter. They reestablish connection with the disciples, with everything pointing to the significance of the Lord’s Supper. Saint Paul is strong on this as he writes, “Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?” (1 Cor. 10:16). The gathering of the apostles after the resurrection has a message for the disciples. They must make Jesus the center of their lives in order to dispel fears and doubts arising in their midst.


On Friday, April 12, I had the opportunity of teaching a group of kids preparing to receive the first holy communion. The topic is on what reverence to the Blessed Eucharist means. It can be hard to teach little kids because you need to step down the language to their grasp. Eventually, I found a material that helped me to identify how to behave in church, to show respect to Jesus. We chanted this a few times. When I come to church:

Eyes are watching

Hands are still

Mind is paying attention

Ears are listening

Mouth is silent

Feet are still

What does this mean to the kids in relation to the church? It is because we have the tabernacle inside the catholic church. I asked the kids, what is a tabernacle? One of them said, “Jesus is inside.” Another said, “It is about Jesus.” We can’t explain this any better. Yes, it is about Jesus. The Eucharist is Christ and everything we do in the Catholic church centers around this. The breaking of bread is about Jesus being truly present in his community. Sometimes, like the apostles, we can get terrified, with questions and confusion in our hearts. Jesus makes himself known to us in the breaking of bread, body, soul, spirit, and divinity, truly present with/for us.

 

The first question to be asked is, “How do we recognize Jesus in our community?” Then follows the second, “How do we bear witness to Jesus in the breaking of bread?” In the post resurrection accounts, two things feature prominently in proving the physical presence of Christ -fish and bread. Jesus obviously loved these two food. But it is more than eating bread as food or feeding the hungry crowd. Already, he taught the disciples to ask for their daily bread in praying the “Our Father.” For Jesus, bread has many spiritual significances: sacrifice, community, memorial, and importantly, healing. Bread makes us remember that Jesus offered himself as sacrifice for us and gives us this ministry to reconcile us to the Father.


Some commentators identify bread as a part of the early Christian community this way, “The first Christians in Jerusalem were continually "devoting themselves" to the breaking of bread as part of their daily life together (Acts 2:42, 46). Originally part of a common meal, the Lord's Supper was both a human and divine means of nourishment: "As often as you eat this bread" (1 Cor 11:26) reminds one of the importance that frequent celebration of the eucharist had in the lives of the early Christians" (Lertis, M.D. (1995) "Breaking the Bread, Breaking the Veil: Recognition of Jesus at Emmaus," Leaven: Vol. 3).


How do we recognize Jesus in our community? My first recommendation would be that we promote and reinforce a reverential approach to the Blessed Eucharist. Many of our young generation kids seem to lack the proper understanding of the Blessed Eucharist. Some kids do not know what it means to say that Jesus is truly and really present in the Eucharist.


Returning to my meeting with those first holy communion kids, I understood that they did not know what genuflection meant. Of course, they are not to blame because no one has taught them. Sometimes, using strange theological concepts might be the problem with stepping down these great traditions in the church. Put it this way: let’s say you get to your house as a child returning from school or from somewhere. Either your dad or mom comes to open door to welcome you. The first thing to do would be to say hi to mom or dad. So, how do you say hi to Jesus on walking into the Church? Maybe we start from there. It is by genuflecting to the Blessed Sacrament with the words, “Jesus in the Blessed Eucharist, I adore you.” Once we establish this presence on arriving in church, it means we can feel him for the rest of the time we are spending there. Growing up, we learnt what genuflection means and what to say when we genuflect in my class 1 at the age of 12. To this day, it has stuck with me, thanks to my first rector in the minor seminary. Kids must be taught on how to recognize Christ in the breaking of bread.


Having the Blessed Sacrament is a huge privilege for us. This makes us ongoing witnesses to the Blessed Eucharist. How we do this may vary, but that we all have a missionary demand. Priests do this as parish priest priests, preaching and administering the sacraments. We teach in church and promote ministries. We help to link up family life and faith. Parents do this in their homes as domestic apostles of the faith. A parent must be knowledgeable in order to dispel fear so to teach the children. Teachers do this in the classrooms as mentors and models to their students. Physicians and medical personnel do this in their encounter with families and patients as they promote life and its dignity. We all are witnesses to the risen Christ as baptized members of Christ’s flock.


This weekend, Jesus asks us to be witnesses to the Eucharist. If Christ asks you, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts,” what would you say? The truth is that we need Jesus’ peace in the breaking of the bread. Let us be like these first holy communion kids and remind ourselves, “It is about Jesus.” In the breaking of bread, we become a community. In that community, we touch Jesus in the Blessed Eucharist. We embrace his hands, touch his feet, and experience him as he is. Jesus says to us, “It is I myself.” Our lives are nothing other than Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Jesus is our peace! Amen.  


Readings: 1st- Acts 3:13-15, 17-19; 2nd- 1 Jn. 2:1-5; Gospel- Lk. 24: 35-48  

 

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