This weekend we heard the wonderful Story of Emmaus. (Lk. 24,13-35) Two disciples were making their way to their hometown in Emmaus when the risen Lord appears to them, discussing with them the events that occurred on that first Good Friday. Jesus explains to them the Scriptures and how they had to be fulfilled in the Son of God who would suffer and die on the cross for our sins. While Jesus was in conversation with them, these two disciples failed to recognize him! It was only when they invited this “stranger” into their house that they recognized the Risen Lord in the “Breaking of the Bread.”
As Catholics we should know that the Eucharist (or Mass) we celebrate really takes its inspiration, form, and overall Rite from two gospel accounts: 1) From the Last Supper when Jesus changed bread and wine into his own Body and Blood for us to eat. 2) From the gospel story we heard today, how (if you look more closely at the Story of Emmaus) you see Jesus first explaining the Scriptures to the disciples (both the Old and New Testament) and then sitting down with them to share a meal in the “Breaking of the Bread.” The sequence of events at Emmaus is exactly what occurs during our Eucharist or Mass today with the Liturgy of the Word followed by the Liturgy of the Eucharist itself!
Our first actual written accounts of the Eucharist come from the early Christian period in 1st-3rd century, in early documents such as the Didache and Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus. It’s amazing how today our current church teachings and Liturgical Rites are very similar to this early period. Our Eucharistic celebration today incorporates certain Jewish and early Christian elements and over time (in the past 2000 years) has evolved and incorporated other important elements such as the Penitential Rite, the Gloria, Prayers of the Faithful, etc. My point is this: Our Mass today really has an organic and scriptural connection to those earliest accounts of the Risen Lord and what Jesus has done for us! We are truly a Eucharistic Church and People in Christ!
These days we are challenged by the fact that many of you cannot celebrate the Eucharist as a congregation nor receive Communion of Christ’s Body and Blood. I have heard many truly devoted people approach me, explaining how they miss receiving our Lord and connecting with other people in our parishes. Because we are a People of the Eucharist, this really hits at the heart of who we are as Catholics. It’s a cross we bear and in many ways, I feel your pain. It’s not the same when you preside before a camera and don’t get the response of the people. Something is missing!
Unfortunately, Bishop Kettler has reminded our priests and our diocese that we must continue with our quarantine for the sake of people’s health and well-being, at least for now. What Fr. Timothy and I are doing is continuing to pray that we can come back together again soon to celebrate the rich Tradition of our Catholic Faith. We also pray for an end to the Covid-19 virus which affects us in so many ways. Until then, I encourage everyone to enter into “Spiritual Communion” as often as you can with us. The Lord may not be present in the Body and in the Blood for everyone, but He can certainly be with us in Spirit, still explaining to us what has happened in recent events. So, let’s keep the Faith in Christ!