He Has Been Made Known to Us in the Breaking of Bread
April 27, 2017
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ Jesus,
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?" … Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of bread.
We see in this Gospel story the two parts of the Holy Mass: the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
First we receive Christ in the Sacred Scriptures. We hear the history of God’s relationship with mankind and how Jesus is present secretly in the Old Testament and made manifest in the New Testament. We hear the words of Jesus in the Gospels and the living out of His commandments in the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles. We sing God’s praises and give voice the joys and sorrows of humanity in the Psalms. Then the priest or deacon opens the Word to us in the homily just as Jesus “interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures.” Our hearts, too, burn with love in response to God’s revealed fidelity and steadfast love for us. And like the disciples on the road we profess our faith in Jesus in the Creed and pour out our sorrows to Christ in the Petitions, and then invite Him to draw near to us in our need.
Then in the Liturgy of the Eucharist we recognize Jesus and receive Him in the Blessed Sacrament. By the power of the Holy Spirit the bread and wine offered by the priest become the Body and Blood of Jesus. We have many ways of speaking of this great mystery—how Jesus is really, truly, and substantially present under the appearance of bread and wine. I enjoy the description made by St. Thomas Aquinas in his hymn Adoro te devote, which I will quote here in the English translation by the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins:
Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore,
Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,
See, Lord, at thy service low lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.
Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived:
How says trusty hearing? that shall be believed;
What God’s Son has told me, take for truth I do;
Truth himself speaks truly or there’s nothing true.
Truly Christ is risen; truly we have seen Him, and He has been made known to us in the breaking of Bread.