Broken Hearts and Broken Bread


Broken Hearts and Broken Bread

The Emmaus story shifts from the major Gospel figures such as Peter, John and Mary Magdalene to two very ordinary people like us, as the Risen Lord comes to them. This clearly shows that the Risen Christ is available, not just to saints and spiritual heroes, but to millions of ordinary people like us. This appearance happened on the road to Emmaus, a small town that was neither a spiritual centre nor an important historical place. Rather, it was just a small, unremarkable village and Christ appears there. This shows that the Risen Christ is accessible anywhere in the world.

It was not so long ago that the hopes of these two disciples had been burning brightly, but then the darkness of Good Friday and the burial in the tomb caused them to lose all their hopes and gladness. Of course, no subject was more important in the minds of the disciples that particular day than the Person of Christ. They were very sad and very anxious over the awful incidents of the last two days. Suddenly, a stranger drew near to them and asked them what they were discussing as they walked along. They did not recognise that it was Jesus who walked with them. They thought he was an ordinary man going in that same direction. As the story unfolds, it is very clear that what blinded them was their unbelief. If they had expected to see Him, they may have recognised Him. Though they did not know it was Our Lord, they nevertheless were ready to enter into discussion with the stranger concerning the person of Jesus.

Generally, sorrow afflicts women’s hearts when they lose their beloved, but men generally become perplexed in mind rather than hearts at a similar loss. Theirs was the sorrow of a shattered career. Jesus, being fully aware of their situation, slowly draws them out to speak out everything that they need to express. A sorrowful heart is best consoled when it relieves itself. Jesus allowed them to share everything that was on their minds and patiently listened to them until the end. In fact, the cure for their sorrow was in the very thing that disturbed them, by seeing it in a new light.

The apostles and disciples thought they had found the Redeemer before Jesus was crucified, but to their amazement, discovered a Redeemer crucified. They had hoped for a Saviour of Israel but were not expecting a Saviour of the Gentiles. They could believe in Him as a Teacher, as a political Messiah, as an ethical reformer, as a saviour of the country, a deliverer from the Romans but they could not believe in the foolishness of the Cross. Therefore, they refused to believe the evidence of the woman who told them that He is risen and is alive.

These two disciples were accused of being foolish and slow of heart just because they had never examined what the prophets had said about the Messiah, that He would be led like a lamb to slaughter. Our Blessed Lord had said that He was the Good Shepherd; that He came to lay down His life for the redemption of many.  Our Risen Lord showed and proved them all the prophecies, all the rituals and all the ceremonials were fulfilled in Him. At last, they arrived at Emmaus and invited Him to stay with them. They still did not recognise Him but there was a light about Him which promised to lead to a fuller revelation.

Jesus then acted as the Host. The four actions of Jesus taking the bread, blessing, breaking and giving it to them resembled closely the Last Supper. Immediately receiving the sacramental bread, the eyes of their souls were opened.

Spiritual writer Paul D’Arcy coined the phrase, “God comes to us disguised as our life.” Encountering Jesus at Emmaus led to the hearts of these disciples burning within them, overcame their fear, and empowered them to go back to the community in Jerusalem, where their experience was validated, and a new vocation or call presented itself to them, to share that good news with the world.

May we all be open to how Jesus might be appearing to us, especially through a call to serve him as a priest, sister, consecrated lay person, single life or marriage, through the voices and support of those around us, causing our hearts to burn within us.

The message of the Emmaus story is that whoever you are and wherever you are in life, the Risen Lord is near you. We come to recognise His presence in the “breaking of the bread” in the Eucharist throughout our life.

By Susai Jesu, OMI
OMI Lacombe Vocation Team