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  • Rev. Lawrence E. Polansky

3rd Sunday of Easter (A)

"They recognized Jesus in the Breaking of Bread."

Entrance Antiphon: Ps 66(65):1-2 — “Cry out with joy to God, all the earth; O sing to the glory of His name. O render Him glorious praise, alleluia.”

First Reading: Acts 2:14, 22-23 — “It was impossible for Jesus to be held by death.”

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11 — “Lord, You will show us the path of life.”

Second Reading: 1 Pet 1:17-21 — “You were saved with the precious Blood of Christ, as with that of a spotless, unblemished lamb.”

Alleluia: Lk 24:32 — “Alleluia, alleluia. Lord Jesus, open the Scriptures to us; make our hearts burn while You speak to us. Alleluia, alleluia.”

Gospel: Lk 24:13-35 — “They recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread.”

Communion Antiphon: Lk 24:35 — “The disciples recognized the Lord Jesus in the breaking of the bread, alleluia.”


Have you ever had someone come up to you and begin talking to you like they knew you and you have no idea who they are? And maybe you feel bad about it and as the conversation continues, you hope for clues as to the other person’s identity. A couple of years ago, I read an article from an old Reader’s Digest magazine at my Dad’s house that told a similar story. A wealthy woman, well-known in sophisticated society, was traveling on a train in New York. Her name was Mrs. Davis. Another expensively dressed, familiar-looking woman took a seat just across the aisle from her and, looking up, nodded to Mrs. Davis and invited her to the adjoining seat. Mrs. Davis made the seat change, all the while racking her brain to remember the woman. Encouraging the woman to talk, hoping for some hint she could grasp and all the while feeling more embarrassed, Mrs. Davis was thrilled when the woman mentioned having a brother. Feeling sure that this clue would solve the puzzle for her, she said casually, “Oh, yes, your brother. What is he doing now?” Nonplussed, her traveling companion offered politely, “He’s still president.” Turns out, the unknown, unidentified woman was the sister of Theodore Roosevelt.


Today’s Gospel brings us back to the first Easter Sunday. On the road to Emmaus, the disciples are confused and sad over the events of the previous days. Jesus, the man they hoped would be their long awaited Messiah, has been crucified and buried. Not only have they lost a dear friend, but their faith is shaken. And we see in the story that it takes a “stranger” to explain to them how all these events were foretold in Scripture. The story of the disciples’ journey and their ultimate recognition of Christ illustrates the many ways Christ is present to us today.


First, Christ is present in His Word. Jesus, the Word made flesh, explained the mystery of His Passion and Resurrection to His disciples through the Scriptures. He is also present to us today in the Word of God we experience in our own individual reading of the Bible or in the communal reading at the Liturgy of the Word, which is why coming to church and sitting down before the readings begin is so important.


Second, Christ is present in the journey of our lives. We have all heard the story of the footsteps in the sand, but the story of the road to Emmaus is much the same. Even though their hearts are “burning” within them as Jesus explains the Scriptures in relation to His own life and death, the disciples still feel abandoned and alone. It is not until they recognize Him later that they realize He has accompanied them on the journey.


Third, Christ is present in other members of His Body, the Church. In keeping with His promise to remain with His followers, Christ established the church. “When His visible presence was taken from them, Jesus did not leave His disciples orphans. He promised to remain with them until the end of time … He sent them His Spirit. As a result, communion with Jesus has become, in a way, much more intense. In the Catholic Catechism which quotes various other Church documents, it says: ‘By communicating His Spirit, Christ mystically constitutes as His body those of his who are called together from every nation’” (CCC, #788, quoting Lumen Gentium, 7. Cf. Jn 14:18; 20:22; Mt 28:20; Acts 2:33).


Fourth, Christ is present in the Mass. Just as the disciples finally recognized the Lord in the Breaking of the Bread, the signal way we experience the presence of Christ is in the Eucharist.


We remember Christ by gathering at Mass. Our very presence at Mass is at the command of the Lord, at whose bidding we celebrate the sacred mystery. God give Moses the Ten Commandments … “Remember the Lord’s Day and keep it holy” and as we obey His command to “do this in memory of Me,” we remember His Life, Death and Resurrection that unite us in the faith.


We experience Christ in Holy Communion. The miracle that occurs at the moment of Consecration brings us an opportunity for profound union with the Lord through the Eucharist. The venerable teaching of the church that Christ is present whole and entire in each species emphasizes that we experience the totality of Christ when we receive the Eucharist.


Christ is present in His Word, in our everyday lives, in other members of the Church and, most especially, in the Eucharist. Today we are reminded in the story of the road to Emmaus that followers of Christ have always struggled to understand the mysteries of our faith, but that Christ does not abandon us, He is always with us, helping us to greater understanding and communion with Him.


Jesus’ disciples did not recognize Him until the Breaking of the Bread. As we work to recognize the many ways Christ is present to us, let us be grateful for the Eucharist ... the Source and Summit of our Catholic faith ... in which we know we will always find our Savior. And after we receive when we go back to our seats, just take a few moments to offer a prayer of thanks to Jesus. Thank Him for being with us every day. Thank Him for being with us in our Moms and Dads and brothers and sisters and families. And thank Him for giving Himself to us in the Eucharist like He did for the Apostles at the Last Supper.

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