Sunday, April 26, 2020

The breaking of Bread

On this the Third Sunday of Easter, the gospel we read at Mass is Luke's narrative of the events that happened to Cleopas and his companion as they walked that famous walk along the road to Emmaus.
The whole story is breathtaking in its power, startling in its impact and life changing in its meaning for us as we continue to live in these very strange times.

The power of the story revolves around the message that it offers. Cleopas and his companion (and that word companion takes on a very important and significant meaning as we'll appreciate later in the story) are wracked with remorse. They are confused, upset and, desperately lost, to the point that they are arguing with one another when the stranger approaches them. Bewildered by the stranger's lack of knowledge of the events of the last few days, they lay out before him the essential reality of the Easter kerygma although they themselves don't seemingly comprehend it. It is as if in failing to recognise who the stranger beside them is, they also have failed to understand the meaning of the message they deliver to him. It is only by being catechised themselves by Jesus that they begin their real journey; that from this moment onwards their lives will change. The events now unfold to bring them to faith and belief. The three of them gather round the table and they become companions in its literal sense, as they share the broken bread. The minds of Cleopas and this friend are enlightened, their hearts aflame with the revelation of what they have just experienced.

Supper at Emmaus by Caravaggio
The impact of the story is now clear. In his great picture of The Supper at Emmaus, Caravaggio captures this very moment of revelation. Cleopas,(?) arms outstretched in cruciform shape, alludes to the sacrificial, sacramental meaning of the moment, while his companion, about to leap out of his chair, conveys both the immediacy and the urgency of the message just revealed; that they must return at once to Jerusalem to proclaim the message that Jesus is risen and lives. They have no reservations. Up they get to recount to the apostles what they have witnessed, of how the message of the resurrection was explained to them through the words of scripture, through their participation and sharing in the sacrament, and through the proclamation of the good news which now becomes their task.

Its meaning for us is clear. That even in our domestic confinement we can still exercise our calling to witness to this great event. We can share the scripture, we can make our homes into places of worship and we can deliver the good news to those we speak with over our telephones and through our social media. And when this lockdown is finished we can make that walk to our own places of gathering and share with our companions that broken bread in the light of the resurrection, and with our hearts burning within us sing God's praises.

Have a good Sunday.

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