Homily by Archbishop Charles Jude Scicluna
In this extraordinary reading from the Gospel of St Luke we meet Jesus Christ who ‘breaks’ the Scriptures open for us, and he also breaks the bread. In fact the narrative that Luke gives us in Chapter 24 corresponds to the structure of our meeting every Sunday. The Lord finds us wherever we are on our way. He joins us and we join him. His thoughts sharing the Scriptures with us, opening our hearts to an understanding that goes beyond what we read and talks to our hearts. And then he breaks the bread and we recognise the Lord.
There are three things I would like to share with you today inspired by this extraordinary reading. First of all the disciples of Emmaus, these two disciples had already received the first news of the resurrection but just the same they decided to go away. We may be in that place in our life. The Lord does not abandon us, he joins us even if we lack faith. We do not receive the announcement and the news of the resurrection with joy. We are sceptical, we are downcast. He joins us.
And this is my first reflection today. Wherever you are, in whatever place you find yourself especially in these very special circumstances, the Lord will find you, he will seek you, he will not leave you alone. He will be with you on your way. You are a pilgrim, he will join you on your pilgrim journey. And even if you lack faith or hope, you are frustrated because of lockdown indications that we receive from our health authorities and we are getting frustrated and tired, if you are anxious about the future, do not give up hope. Remember the Lord will not abandon us. He joins us on our way in whatever place we find ourselves.
My second refection is how important it is to read Scripture as a way to know Jesus and to recognise Jesus. He finds two disciples “that are downcast” (Lk 24:18) and he starts explaining the Scriptures to them. It is so easy to access Scriptures if we want to today. There are so many apps that you can put on our smartphones. One of them could be a smartphone application, an application that gives you the Bible and helps you read and understand. So you do not really need to come to church on Sunday to hear Scriptures but the Lord is eager to share the Scriptures with you. Do you want to listen? Do you want to hear him?
Remember the Lord will not abandon us. He joins us on our way in whatever place we find ourselves.
Just the same we yearn for him to stay, he does not force himself on the two disciples. As they approach the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on further (Lk 24:28), but they urged him: “Stay with us for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over” (Lk 24:29). Stay with us. What a beautiful invitation, what beautiful words. We need to say these words to the Lord and very often: ‘Stay with us’ and if we invite him, he does stay with us. 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 recognised him but he vanished from their sight” (Lk 24:30-31). He did not go away, he vanished from their sight. There was no need for them to see him with their eyes because they were recognising him and they were seeing him with their heart. At the breaking of the bread the disciples of Emmaus recognised the Lord.
And this is also our prayer as we unfortunately cannot meet in our churches because of the advice of the Health authorities which we should follow for our good and for our health. We pray that we would soon be able to go back to our churches to meet on Sunday as a community, listening to Jesus opening the Word for us and breaking the bread. The first Christians used to call the Eucharist with this beautiful phrase: the breaking of the bread. This was the first expression used to tell the community what was happening: Jesus breaking the bread.
Even if we cannot meet in our churches and we cannot celebrate the Eucharist as we would want to, we still can break the bread of charity, the bread of compassion, whatever we have even if it is not too much but that very little, if we share it we are breaking the bread and we will recognise Jesus.
And we break the bread also when we share who we are and what we have with other people. We can do that every day and we should do that whenever we find brothers and sisters who need our help. It is such a great consolation to notice so many initiatives of charity, solidarity, compassion of people breaking the bread to help other people. Even if we cannot meet in our churches and we cannot celebrate the Eucharist as we would want to, we still can break the bread of charity, the bread of compassion, whatever we have even if it is not too much but that very little, if we share it we are breaking the bread and we will recognise Jesus.
St Exupery in the little book called ‘The Little Prince’ has this expression that he puts on the mouth of the wolf. And the wolf says: “The essential are not be seen by the eyes, but with the heart”. So let us recognise Jesus on this Easter Sunday by breaking the bread of charity and giving hope to each other through love and compassion.
✠ Charles J. Scicluna
Archbishop of Malta
Reading I: Acts 2, 14.22-33
Psalm: 15 (16) 1-2a.5.7-8.9-10.11
Reading II: 1 Pt 1, 17-21
Gospel: Lk 24, 13-35