Today’s reflection is for the Third Sunday of Easter, April 26, 2020, and the readings for today can be found by clicking here.
Last week we learned that Sacred Scripture does not have everything we want to know, but what is written is so that we may come to believe in Jesus and have life in His name. Today, we look at the power that is contained in the Word of God, and in the breaking of the bread, the Eucharist, that together give us the courage and the strength to live this Christian life. The Word and the Eucharist are amazing gifts of God to the Church, that help us know God and find peace in whatever circumstance.
The Alleluia today is, “Lord Jesus, open the Scriptures to us; make our hearts burn while you speak to us.” Today Jesus walks with his downcast and disappointed disciples, miraculously unrecognizable to them, as they journeyed toward Emmaus. In their sadness they poured out their hearts to him about all the things which brought them confusion, sadness, and disappointment. The biblical term for this type of holy complaining is “Lament.” There’s a whole book of it in the Old Testament, Lamentations. Praise to God is a Holy, “Yeah!” and lament to God is a Holy, “Ouch!”
Both praise and lament are beautiful expressions of faith. In praise we acknowledge God the gift-giver, and in lament we acknowledge God the consoler. In praise we give thanks, and in lament we lean upon God for answers; we don’t like how things are going and we go to God to make it right, to comfort us, and to bring us peace. Today the disciples discover with great joy, that the answers they sought to bring peace to their hurting hearts were found in the Scriptures and in the Eucharistic celebration—the breaking of bread.
In one of my favorite documents of the Second Vatican Council, Dei Verbum, the council teaches, “In the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven meets His children with great love and speaks with them; and the force and power in the word of God is so great that it stands as the support and energy of the Church, the strength of faith for her sons, and the food of the soul, the pure and everlasting source of spiritual life.” (DV21) I love it. It reminds me so much of what I try to do as a dad. I love my boys so much, and I speak with them, guide them, encourage them, empower them, and my hope is that all of our time spent together might, by word and example, support them and be a source of strength that guides them throughout their lives. And so it is with God.
The disciples hand him their hurt, and he opens the Scriptures for them. Beginning with Moses, he helps them to find meaning in life’s circumstances…and they don’t want to leave him. They ask him to stay for a meal…a supper. While he was with them, he took bread and broke it, and their eyes were opened. They recognized him in the breaking of bread, and it was in the breaking of bread that they realized their hearts burned within them as he opened the Scriptures to them. They go together. The Table of the Word and the Table of the Eucharist; the two parts of the Mass. It’s a beautiful cycle of Word and Eucharist, and in both we discover the Risen Lord, and it is he who comforts our broken hearts and turns our pain into dancing; and dance someday we will.
This Sunday, we bring our sadness and our anxiety, we bring our sick-and-tired of shelter-in-place, and rubber gloves, and masks. In faith we lament this present experience and we want answers, but mostly we want peace—in our life, in our family, in our country, and in the world. And then, in the Mass, in the Scriptures and in the Breaking of bread, we recognize Him, the Prince of Peace. And we remember. We remember in this moment that God raised Jesus from the dead; of this we stand witness, and we remember that if God is with us then nothing and no one can be against us, and we remember what Paul of the Cross knew, “What has a person to fear who lives in the arms and bosom of God?” Lament, hear, and see God…and find peace.