3rd Sunday of Easter Luke 24:35-48
Today’s Gospel records another of the appearances of the Risen Lord on that first Easter Sunday. Again, we have disciples struggling to come to terms with the events of recent days.
They have seen Jesus crucified and all hope seems to be gone. They have heard rumours that Jesus is alive – but have not hung around to find out whether they are true or not. Why should they? Crucified men do not come back to life. Along the way, they are joined by a stranger and can scarcely believe that he doesn’t know what has been going on. So they tell him. The stranger – who we know to be Jesus, of course, proceeds to look at the story from a different angle and sets it into the sweep of history.
Something in his manner captures their imaginations and they invite Him to join them for the evening. The history probably continued – and from deep within them, a spark of hope is rekindled. But it is not His eloquence that finally shows them who He is – it is a simple gesture. Like the host of any Jewish meal, He takes bread, blesses and breaks it – and passes it to them. Their minds are taken back to the Thursday night when they had seen Jesus do exactly the same thing – and their eyes were opened. The One breaking bread and giving it to them on Thursday was the same Person who was breaking it and giving it to them now!
Having revealed His Risen Presence, Jesus disappears from their sight. The disciples are left wondering what to do. They suddenly realised the enormity of the news they had to tell – and realised too that it was not news to keep to themselves, going quietly back to Emmaus. This was news for the other disciples – news that would change the world. They retraced their steps – to find the Eleven buzzing with the same news: the Lord had risen and appeared to Simon. But it was the report of the Breaking of Bread that fixed itself in the consciousness of the disciples – what Jesus had done on the last day of His earthly life, He had done on the first day of His Risen Life. The disciples began to understand the power of that gesture. Somehow, every time they did it they would be proclaiming His death – and His resurrection.
In every time and in every place since, each time the Eucharist has been celebrated, the same proclamation is made – Christ died – Christ is Risen – and Christ will one day come again!