Saturday, May 7, 2011

Third Sunday of Easter: Know Jesus in the 'Breaking of the Bread'

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!

At Emmaus Jesus gave his Body and Blood as he celebrated the Eucharist. There the disciples encountered the Easter Christ: "they had come to know Jesus in the breaking of bread." (Lk 24, 25)

"The Breaking of the bread" is an ancient name for the Eucharistic Sacrifice of the Mass and recorded in Scripture. Each of us relives the wonder and awe of Emmaus at every Mass. We "know Jesus the Lord" in the most perfect way outside of heaven itself as the priest, acting in the person of Christ, offers the Mass. In this way we encounter the Resurrection as an historical and transcendent event. Earth and heaven come together in Jesus the God-Man as he appears before us on the altar of sacrifice. Thus, the place in which this event takes place becomes ”house of God and gate of heaven”.

“The mystery of Christ's resurrection is a real event, with manifestations that were historically verified, as the New Testament bears witness. In about a.d. 56, St. Paul could already write to the Corinthians: ‘I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve...’ (1 Cor 15:3-4) The Apostle speaks here of the living tradition of the Resurrection which he had learned after his conversion at the gates of Damascus. (Cf. Acts 9:3-18)" (CCC 639)

The Gospel records the appearances of the risen Christ and tells of the panic and fright, the joy and wonder of the women and the Apostles who first saw him. This is put down in writing so that we may know, even as we experience the same lack of belief as they surely did, that Christ really and truly rose from the dead. We must through God's grace overcome our lack of belief and embrace the virtue of faith more and more. "Lord I believe, help my unbelief." Without faith we cannot freely choose to love God as he commands us to do. It is through the virtue of love, freely chosen, of Jesus the risen Lord, encountered in faith, that we hope to share in the Resurrection of the Lord. Even the beautiful accounts of Jesus in the Gospel are only fully understood and accepted by faith. The Easter gift of the Eucharist is the fount of these and all the gifts of grace.

"Mary Magdalene and the holy women who came to finish anointing the body of Jesus, which had been buried in haste because the Sabbath began on the evening of Good Friday, were the first to encounter the Risen One. (Mk 16:1; Lk 24:1; Jn 19:31, 42) Thus the women were the first messengers of Christ's Resurrection for the apostles themselves. (Cf. Lk 24:9-10; Mt 28:9-10; Jn 20:11-18) They were the next to whom Jesus appears: first Peter, then the Twelve. Peter had been called to strengthen the faith of his brothers, (Cf. 1 Cor 15:5; Lk 22:31-32) and so sees the Risen One before them; it is on the basis of his testimony that the community exclaims: "The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!" (Lk 24:34, 36)" (CCC 641)

Mary Magdelene and the other first witnesses of the empty tomb and the risen Christ, spread the joyful news with tears and smiles of heavenly joy. We, too, are messengers of the Resurrection; we live the glory of Easter through the transcendent gifts of faith, hope and love in action.

Mother Elvira, the foundress of Comunita Cenacolo, a “school of life” for drug addicts and other young people at risk, calls us to be “missionaries of the smile”. We evangelize, spread the truth with a smile, transmitting to others the serene joy which is the fruit of faith that has placed hope in the resurrection of Divine Love Incarnate.

He is truly risen, Alleluia!

-- ((((..))))

Reflections on the Scriptures of the Sacred Liturgy and the Catechism for every Sunday of the year at Meeting Christ in the Liturgy. (Publish with permission.)

(Photo: Cardinal Zen of Hong Kong communicates the faithful at holy Mass.)

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