April 26, 2020
by Eileen Wirth
Creighton University's Department of Jounalism, Media and Computing
click here for photo and information about the writer

Third Sunday of Easter
Lectionary: 46

Acts 2:14, 22-33
Psalms 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11
1 Peter 1:17-21
Luke 24:13-35

Celebrating Easter

The Story of Emmaus:
Feeling our Hearts Burning With Hope

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Our Hope for Everlasting Life

Easter Joy in Everyday Life

Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way
and how he was made known to them in the breaking of bread.

In happier days, we EME’s [Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist] would stand in the sanctuary of St. John’s offering worshipers the host or the chalice. “Body of Christ” or “Blood of Christ” we would say, smiling at each recipient, naming those we knew. The ritual has never grown stale for me.

As I write this, it is Holy Thursday and like the rest of you, I can’t attend Mass or receive communion tonight. However, today’s gospel from Luke about Jesus’ apparition to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus reminds us how central the sacramental breaking of bread is to our Christian identity.

In Luke’s gospel, this was how the disciples recognized Jesus. In our day, receiving the Eucharist is one of the ways we affirm our connection with the living Body of Christ snaking in lines up to our sanctuaries everywhere.

The Body of Christ.

It includes all of us – young, old, women, men, all races, ethnicities and economic levels. As one of my favorite St. Louis Jesuit hymns, “One Bread, One Body,” says, “we are one body in this one Lord.”

I’ve felt this affiliation in magnificent cathedrals and humble country churches, with my beloved St. John’s community and in foreign churches where I didn’t understand the local language. But the sacrament united us.  

No wonder we tend to remember First Communion so fondly and not just for the frilly white dresses we girls got to wear. At last we were old enough to receive Jesus and to partake of his Body in a fuller sense.

So, what does this all mean at this strange, hard time?

In Luke’s account, the two disciples were feeling bereft at the loss of Jesus but after they recognized him through the breaking of the bread, they realized he was still with them. That’s true today.  Jesus has not abandoned us. He’s present in his living Body to help us cope with our hardships.

May this time of separation from receiving the Eucharist increase our love of the sacrament and the communities in which we receive it. May we remember that this Body knows no borders and that at the end of every Eucharistic celebration we are admonished to “go forth to love and serve the world and one another.”

It’s up to us to bring our identity with the Body of Christ to life and not to leave it at the church door – that is when we can finally return to entering those doors!

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