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Christ in the Eucharist
Wednesday in the Octave of Easter
That very day, the first day of the week, two of Jesus’ disciples were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing as you walk along?” They stopped, looking downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?” And he replied to them, “What sort of things?” They said to him, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him. But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place. Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive. Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures. As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther. But they urged him, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?” So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the Eleven and those with them who were saying, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!” Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Opening Prayer: Jesus, I long to be caught up in the wonder of your Resurrection. I read these words and can feel the amazement of these two disciples, the excitement they felt, the fire burning in their hearts again as they recounted the story of how they met you. Every day this week, the Scriptures offered stories of encounters with you. Everyone who met you had to share what they had seen and heard. Today I want my meditation to be an encounter that changes me and sets me on fire.
- The Story They Told to Jesus: Two sad disciples, full of confusion and doubt, walked slowly away from Jerusalem. When Jesus met them on the road, he saw their sadness and engaged them in conversation. As they related their story, it was evident that they were stuck in Good Friday emotions and unable to tap into the joy that comes from living as a resurrection people. “We had hoped…” they said. Did their hopelessness, grief, and sorrow blind them to the presence of Christ beside them on their journey? How do we let emotion influence our ability to recognize truth? With Christ’s help, may we come to realize which emotions cause us spiritual blindness.
- The Story Jesus Told: If we had accompanied the two disciples walking to Emmaus, we would have overheard Jesus tell us his own story with unparalleled depth and divine insight. The whole Old Testament would have been interpreted through the lens of the Passion by Christ himself. These humble disciples received from the mouth of God the greatest story ever told, the best homily ever preached, the wisest exegesis ever given. And they became an integral part of the story. Jesus wants to do the same thing in our life. He wants to weave his life with ours until we are one with him in eternity. How does our limited way of seeing crosses and difficulties prevent us from allowing Christ to do what he wants in our life?
- The Eucharist: The trio stopped for dinner and the guest continued to astound the two disciples by his manner and words. Their hearts were on fire with love. Only in the breaking of the bread–the Eucharist–however, did they recognize the Lord. And then Jesus vanished—leaving them in silence with the Eucharist. Just as the stories of the Old Testament point to Christ, the story of Emmaus points to the primacy of the Eucharist. At every Mass, Jesus accompanies us in an unfamiliar form through the personhood of the priest. At Communion, we receive Jesus, Body, Blood, soul, and divinity, but to our visible eye, he is not present. Back in our pew, we are left alone in silence with the Eucharist to ponder the great gift we have just received. Are our hearts on fire?
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, I want to live by your version of my story because I know it’s perfectly laid out, and you’ve seen to everything so that I can one day be with you in eternity. May I delight at the wonders of your works in my life and grow in my love of you in the Eucharist so that my heart burns.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will receive the Eucharist with fervor and gratitude.
For Further Reflection: Read paragraph number 3 of Pope Francis’s exhortation on joy.
Fr. Adam Zettel, LC, was ordained in 2017 and worked for three years as a high school chaplain in Dallas, Texas. Now he resides in Oakville, Ontario, serving youth and young adults.