Mission Society of the Philippines

Homilies

3rd SUNDAY OF EASTER: RECOGNIZING CHRIST IN THE EUCHARIST

Lk 24:35-48


THE GOSPEL PASSAGE suggests that even when Christ had risen from the dead, the truth of his resurrection has not sunk in yet on the part of his disciples. Thus, Christ tried to find ways on how to explain or demonstrate that event to the disciples. The link between the earthly Jesus and the risen Christ can be found in the “breaking of the bread.” Through this, the two disciples on the road to Emmaus were able to recognize Him. Likewise, Jesus opened the minds of his disciples in understanding what the Scriptures has said about Him.

Let us try to reflect upon the theme on “recognition” because this also appears as a problem to modern-day believers. Some Catholics do not find meaning in what they practice in the Church because it is not clear to them what these religious practices mean. For instance, going to Church on Sundays could not be felt as something meaningful because it is monotonous, repetitious, and predictable. There is no meaning in these practices because Christ has been hardly recognized in the liturgical celebration.

The Holy Eucharist is very dear to us, Catholics, because, in this sacrament, we experience the “real presence” of Christ through his sacred body and blood. But what shall we do in order to recognize Christ in this sacrament?

Firstly, we need to be heedful to the Word of God. Let us take note that the disciples had a hard time figuring out the resurrection of Christ. Consequently, Christ has “opened their minds” to understand the Scriptures. He said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.” The disciples had heard the Word of God or the Word of Jesus, but, unfortunately, they failed in understanding it.

I would say that this is also our problem in relation to the Word of God. We have chances of hearing the Word of God, but often, we don’t care to attentively listen to it. Another problem could be that the Word of God does not appear as something appealing or striking. We may be attracted to the words of people whom we idolize. Often, we quote or cite them. However, our experience with the Word of God may be different because often it brings discomfort to us. But this is the nature of the Word. Christ tells us the truth, and in fact, He is the Truth. And the truth often brings discomfort. As a result, we tend to ignore it. This could have been the attitude of the disciples. Jesus had explained to them about His impending passion and death. But they did not care to listen to Him, because these words gave them discomfort.

We need to recognize Christ in the Scriptures. We need to realize that He is present in the Scriptures. Many things have been said about Him, and these are recorded in the Scriptures. Thus, if we want to know more about Him, we need to read or listen to the Word of God.

Secondly, we need to be sensitive to the signs that we see in the celebration of the Eucharist. Let us remember that the risen Christ was not instantly recognized by his disciples, but as soon as He “broke the bread,” there the disciples came to recognize Him. Moreover, He asked his disciples, “Have you anything here to eat?” Then they “gave Him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them”. This is to show to them that He was the Jesus whom they have been with, the Jesus who loved to eat with his disciples and with the known public sinners. It was through this action or sign that the disciples came to recognize Jesus. This action of Christ was indeed powerful. This could be the redeeming moment of the disciples. Yes, they failed to understand the Scriptures, but they have clearly recognized Him in the breaking of the bread and in "eating of the fish". 

The lesson that we can get from this gospel passage is again “recognition”. We should remember that each time we come to the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, we are entering into the “world of signs.” Therefore, we must be attentive to the gestures, actions, language, and prayers which are part of the liturgy. Like for instance, if we listen attentively to the prayer to the Holy Spirit which transforms the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, then we can easily recognize Christ there. This is the reason why we are taught about the “real presence” of Christ in the Eucharist. This is something that we, Catholics, should treasure. If we have the awareness of all these, then the Holy Eucharist would become even more meaningful in our lives. It is meaningful because we have always the chance to encounter Jesus, as well as to receive Him or His Body. It is something we always look forward to. AMEN.


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