But they urged him, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.”
So he went in to stay with them. And it happened that,
while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them.
With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight.
My Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Peace be with you this Easter season! In our spiritual reality, food plays a primary role in the story of salvation, from the forbidden fruit in the garden which brings forth sin and death to the food of Christ’s body on the tree of the cross which brings forth everlasting life. It is not the Eucharistic food that is changed into us, but rather we who are mysteriously transformed by it. Christ nourishes us by uniting us to His Body; “He draws us into the life of the Trinity in giving us His Body as our Bread of Life.”
Jesus is obedient to the Father whom He loves dearly. He suffers and dies for our sake and reconciles the whole human race with God. With His death and rising, Jesus completes God’s new covenant. Through the grace of Baptism, the Word of God lies within our heart. Yet, the Word calls for our heart to a path of conversion; to follow Jesus wherever He goes, to do the will of His Father, as He did. As we experience anew the Agony of the Garden with Jesus, we may feel troubled at times with what we encounter each day. We should not be discouraged or disappointed, but with the promise of everlasting life, we are called to renew the earth with God’s profound love.
Like the disciples at Emmaus, we may struggle to see clearly what is before us. Jesus tells us not to be afraid for He is with us always, until the end of the age. Like the disciples, we long to recognize Jesus Christ the Lord in the breaking of the bread. We desire to dine in the kingdom of God. We seek conversion, that as we dine with Jesus, we are transformed by His presence. We plead for forgiveness and ask how to offer His Peace to each other. We await the hospitality of God as we open our arms to each other in welcome. We make ready our heart as we bring justice and generosity toward each other, to fulfill His mission.
Pope Francis reminds us that it was in the breaking of the Bread that the disciples recognized the Risen Lord at Emmaus. Likewise, at Mass, “in the Eucharistic Bread, broken for the life of the world, the praying assembly recognizes the true Lamb of God, that is, Christ the Redeemer, and prays to Him, ‘have mercy on us, grant us peace.”
During the Easter Vigil, we are drawn to the light which overcomes the darkness and illuminates the liturgical assembly. The priest lights the Paschal candle from the new fire and says, “May the light of Christ rising in glory dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds.” Pope Francis tells us that the Light of Christ enables “all of us to relive the experience of the disciples on the way to Emmaus. By listening to God’s Word and drawing nourishment from the table of the Eucharist, our hearts are ever more ardent in faith, hope and love.”
During this holiest of seasons, may our eyes be open that we might recognize Him as we pray urgently, Stay with us, Lord.