How should we recognize Jesus in breaking bread

The Lord sacramentally anticipated His delivery at the Last Supper. After the Resurrection, He manifested Himself to His disciples. As we are pilgrims in history, we want to ask the Emmaus disciples for help, in order to learn to recognize him when he breaks bread. Our sincere wish is that all participants in the 17th National Eucharistic Congress recognize their presence and become missionaries, taking with them the richness of what we will live together, helped by the reflection offered by Father Giovanni Martoccia SX, whose main points we offer to everyone (Cf Basic text of the 17th National Eucharistic Congress, Edition of the Archdiocese of Belém).

Photo: CN Archive

The day was gray as the heart of all the disciples, full of fear, doubt and sadness. The messianic hopes fueled by Jesus dissipated in the wind of Roman repression; and, together with them, also the dreams of a Kingdom of God, so long cherished, shattered in the wicked gallows that received the condemnation of the Just. The women’s testimony that Jesus’ body was not in the tomb was not enough to convince the apostles that something extraordinary had happened. Nobody in the group wanted to believe it.

How many times had I confirmed to them that I would be resurrected! Treasuring the memory of His Word was an indispensable prerequisite for not sinking in the midst of tragedy. His Word, meditated in the heart, is a sure anchor of faith, a source of hope and a driving force for the proclamation of the Good News.

Recognize Jesus

Two disciples, having left the city of Jerusalem, theater of the sad events of the arrest and execution of the Master, went to Emmaus, a village two hours away from a good walk. They seem to want to go back to their past and forget everything that had happened, burying the last memory of their dashed hopes. But it was precisely that smoking wick that compelled them to talk about those same unforgettable events. The rocky and rugged path rhythmized the shifting and harsh thoughts of their hearts. The eyes of his memory seem closed, completely closed, to the point of not even recognizing Jesus himself, who, approaching, started to walk with them.

They were so focused that they paid no attention to the unknown, who took the initiative and started a conversation, asking about the subject that worried them and that seemed so serious: “What are you discussing along the way?”. They were sad and saddened by the death of their Master, disappointed, because they thought he was the Messiah, and now they think they were wrong. Finally, they stop. A stop on this walk, a symbol of our journey of life, is the first step to understanding how we get away from Him, to the point that we don’t even recognize Him anymore, and how much sadness his lack has brought into our life! He visits us, but, many times, we do not notice His presence, because we are tied to our old way of thinking, to our imagination that wants to determine the action of God. The same Jesus that they knew so well was before them,

How is it possible?

In fact, Jesus is the same. It is the disciples who have changed; closing in on
their frustrated hope, they can no longer recognize Him. Before, they looked at
Jesus with confidence, believed in Him. Now, they are disappointed and their look is
different. False expectations blinded them. However, Jesus fulfilled all of His words, but not as they imagined. It is necessary to receive something new,
new light so that the eyes are opened and, finally, recognize Him.

Jesus, who asks for clarification on these serious events, answers Cleopas with another question that seems to express astonishment and irritation: “Are you the only outsider in Jerusalem who does not know what has happened there in these last days?” Jesus is very interested and ready to hear everything that happened. Cleopas informs the curious stranger of the facts that have so marked their lives. It tells everything from the ministry of Jesus, known as the Nazarene. But the two disciples were unable to accept the events and interpret them. They are disappointed!

The disciples’ disappointment is justified by the fact that “it has been three days since all these things happened!” and Jesus did not appear. After having listened carefully to the whole story they had to tell, he suddenly scolded them severely. Jesus, with a question about the need for the suffering of the Messiah, begins Easter catechesis. It is necessary that the life of Jesus be interpreted in the light of the Holy Scriptures.

When they got close to the village they were going to, He pretended to go further. “Stay with us, because it is late and the day is already declining”. Then he went in to be with them. Indeed, life without Him is very dark, without light or meaning, like a pilgrim on a new moon night. Once at the table with them, he took the bread, pronounced the blessing, broke it and distributed it among them. Then, her eyes opened and recognized Him. It is Jesus who takes the initiative, who approaches them and explains everything to them. In the fraction of the bread, he made his eyes open. They now recognize Him. It will be Jesus who will open the mind to the eleven apostles to understand the Scriptures, because everything that was written had to be fulfilled.

Jesus is recognized by the fraction of the bread

Jesus disappears the moment the two disciples recognize Him. It is to warn us that it is not an extraordinary vision, but the normal path of faith that leads us to the encounter with the living Christ in the Eucharist, in fraternal coexistence, in listening to the Word, in generous witness and in evangelizing commitment. It is not the physical features that make it possible to recognize the risen Jesus as the one who was crucified, but the distinctive gesture of His existence: the breaking of the bread, a gesture that expresses and brings forth His gift of total and unconditional love, His service, His living for the others. In reciprocal witness, faith manifests its community dimension, reveals its transforming strength, invigorates the heart and illuminates the Church’s ways. And they said to each other: “Our hearts did not burn when he spoke to us on the way, when did you explain the Scriptures to us? ” Under this joyful impulse, two returned to Jerusalem.

Hope, enthusiasm, faith and the strength to return to the path, even though it is long and difficult, and the night is back. But the darkness of the night is no longer scary. The light that now shines in the heart is more than enough to overcome the threatening darkness. Upon arriving in Jerusalem, another pleasant surprise awaits you. The eleven and their companions met there, who said: “It is true! The Lord arose and appeared to Simon! ” Then, in turn, they also told the events of the way and how Jesus was recognized by them in the breaking of bread.

To the community that wondered how to meet the Lord Jesus today, Luke narrates the episode of the Emmaus disciples. The report aims to transmit to the community the joy of the encounter with the Lord, the Living One, and to encourage them to seek a personal experience of His presence in communion and in the experience of the Church. All those who seek the Lord, with a sincere and passionate heart, opening themselves to the nourishment of His Word and the Eucharistic Supper, will perceive His voice and presence. Jesus is present, as unknown, in the ways of life, in unexpected encounters, in everyday events, which need to be understood in the light of His Word. It is about identifying the action of God in our history, acquiring a spiritual intelligence of events and making “memory”, like Mary, in the heart.


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