Last Sunday we heard the Emmaus story for the Gospel. Two of Jesus' disciples are walking along the road to Emmaus, and they are caught in their grief and confusion due to the events in Jerusalem on Good Friday and Easter. Neither disciple has encountered the risen Jesus yet, and when our Lord does appear in their midst, they cannot recognize him. Perhaps they are so mired in their grief they cannot see him, or perhaps his resurrection transformation makes our Lord somewhat unrecognizable.
Whatever the case, even though they think all has been lost, and that God has abandoned them, Jesus still walks with them in their confusion, even when they cannot see him. Our Lord ministers to them through the scriptures, and out of that encounter their hearts begin to burn, and they persuade this stranger to stay with them. Then the miraculous happens. Jesus blesses the bread, he breaks the bread, and he shares the bread. Finally their eyes are opened, and they realize that the resurrected Jesus has been with them from the very beginning of their journey.
Many Christians consider the Emmaus story to be the first real Eucharist. It is true that we commemorate the Lord's Supper on Maundy Thursday, but in some ways that Eucharist does not enjoy the complete fullness of the resurrection. Once we make the Emmaus journey, we discover the Eucharist as the Sacrament of resurrection - the ultimate sign that Jesus is physically present with his body of believers for all of eternity. Through the Eucharist Jesus becomes the eternal rabbi for all people of all ages.
I have been thinking that it would be great to name a church "Burning Hearts Church." Would not this be a wonderful name for St. Mark's? (No, I am not talking about the indigestion you might get from one of our splendid potlucks.) I hope that when we gather on Sunday mornings our hearts burn when we hear the scriptures during the mass, as well as when we study the Bible between masses. We are fortunate to have such an excellent Bible study between our morning masses with multiple intelligent facilitators.
Finally, nothing helps me gain my sight better than the breaking of the bread. So many times I think my mind and heart are set upon God, but then reality comes and I discover my need for the Eucharist. Nothing puts me on the correct path to God better than the Eucharist. We are fortunate to have the mass everyday at St. Mark's. Chances are we need such continual sharing of Christ's body and blood, for all of us need our sight perfected on a continual basis. The more we break the bread, the more Christ becomes present, and the more we gain our sight.
Father Paul Lillie+