4/17/2012 1:20:00 PM We recognize each other in the breaking of the bread
Mary Jo Tully Chancellor, Archdiocese of Portland
Sunday, April 22, 2012 Third Sunday of Easter Acts 3:13-15,17-19 1 John 2:1-5a Luke 24:35-48
As the weeks after Easter unfold, we discover more and more about not just the Risen Lord but about ourselves. The Acts of the Apostles holds out an image of what this community should be. The Gospel shows the many ways that Christ’s life echoes in our lives.
We know the story of Emmaus which the disciples recount in today’s Gospel. Most of us are particularly taken with the words: And they knew him in the breaking of the bread.” If there is a gospel especially suited for this time in our history, it would seem to me that it is the Gospel of Luke. The Gospel of Luke is richly human. Perhaps that is the reason it is my favorite. Foremost among those human experiences uncovered in the Gospel of Luke is the meal. Easter could not simply be a matter of an empty tomb for Jesus’ disciples. It was a meeting with Jesus risen in the meal on the way to Emmaus and in the eating of the fish in today’s Gospel.
For Christians today, it is still an encounter with the risen Christ in everyday life —at a meal, in the marketplace, at the office, in our homes. Resurrection is not just a one day happening. It is the celebration that ought never end. Easter is everyday because Christ lives with us and we proclaim the reality of his presence again and again and again. Our faith is not separate from our lives. All the needs that announce our humanness are addressed in the light of our belief. In Christ risen, we hear words that call us to conversion: “Now you must repent.” We are called to bring the word to others: “You are witness of this.” And, if we forget, we “have an Advocate.”
These are the words that motivate us as we move from activity to activity. The Lord is with us in our lives. Here in the Pacific Northwest where there are so few Catholics, it is wonderful to discover a neighbor at the Eucharist — to recognize the person in the breaking of the bread. There are times, though, when this might not be so much a happy homecoming as a confrontation with our own behavior. The person we cut off on the highway might well be the one who offers us the Body of Christ. The store clerk with whom we were short-tempered could well be the one who extends a hand at the gesture of peace. Although a uniform or once-a-week gathering is not the best reason to alter our behavior, this is the sort of challenge we sometimes need.
We need to be reminded of the dignity we possess because of our association with the community of believers. The Eucharist is a gathering of those who proclaim that Jesus is Lord. Christians are those who should want to be recognized because their attitude toward others announces Christianity to the world. Clearly, this is a goal we have not reached. We are not always good witnesses to our faith. Today we announce that the time will come when the world will know Jesus. They have found the Lord in our actions.