Today’s Gospel begins with two disciples leaving Jerusalem, their hopes dashed and their hearts broken. They sadly say, “we had hoped”. They encounter a stranger with whom they share their story and their own doubt at the testimony of the women who had encountered an angel with glad tidings of the resurrection and all the ensuing confusion amongst their group. Their faith seems gone; their hope vanquished. But Jesus will not allow them to continue in their despair. He goes after them in an attempt to turn them around, to restore their hope and their faith -- ultimately giving them a new purpose in life: the proclamation of the Good News of the resurrection!
As they walk along the road their hearts are set afire and burn within them. Their hope and faith in Jesus Christ is rekindled. Jesus reveals himself to them in the breaking of the bread…they dared not even speak the question of who this stranger might be, because they knew! And even though he vanished from their midst, he remained with them in their trembling hands that held the bread that had been broken and blessed; he remained in their burning hearts.
In his absence they felt his real presence and they were forever changed. Regardless of how many times we may turn away and walk down a different road, Jesus comes after us. He seeks us out and sets our hearts afire once again. Each time we gather to bless, to break and to share the bread, Christ is present and invites us to share of his very self. And in this sharing, we are more and more transformed into the Risen Body of Christ -- not for ourselves, but for the sake of the life of the world!
We are sent -- just like the original disciples -- to carry forth “The Presence” into a broken world so desperately in need of healing. We are called to be the stranger who walks with those whose hearts are breaking, whose hopes are dashed. We are called to be bread broken and shared for the sake of the world.
Like the breaking of the bread moment was for the two disciples, what moments have I had when I felt the presence of the Risen Christ in my life? How did it affect me? How can I be “the Presence” to others in my life? Who has been the least likely “Presence” to me?… What did I learn from the encounter?
May the peace of the Risen Christ be with you always,