The Eucharist was described by the Bishops at the Second Vatican Council as the “source and summit” of our Christian life. At the Eucharist we encounter Jesus Christ in a unique and personal way. Just as the food and drink that we have at home becomes a part of us, so too the Body and Blood of Christ that we receive in faith becomes a part of us, nourishing and strengthening us in faith, hope and love. As Catholics we believe that this bread and wine that is consecrated on this altar is no longer bread and wine, but becomes – through the power of God – the Body and Blood of Jesus. Jesus did not say “This represents my Body”, or “This is a symbol of my Blood”. It is what He says it is, and as we eat and drink it we become one with Him.
Our gospel of the road to Emmaus shows us so beautifully the two Liturgies of our Eucharist – the Liturgy of the Word, and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. As Jesus shared with the two disciples all that the Hebrew Scriptures had revealed about Him their hearts “burned” with understanding and insight in how to live and respond to God’s grace. As we celebrate the Eucharist the Word of God – from the Old and New Testament – reveals to us who Jesus is, who our God is, and who we are. Then the pieces of our ‘puzzle’ will come together, and we will not only understand the revelation, but we will embrace it and live it. The Word of God is directed to each of us here and now. We cannot dodge the Word by convincing ourselves that it was written for another people at another time. He is speaking to us – to our ears, minds, hearts and spirits.
When the two disciples saw this ‘mystery man’ break the bread they knew it was the Lord Jesus. “Their eyes were opened”, but He vanished from their sight. When this bread is blessed it becomes the Body of Christ, and when we break it and distribute it, we are sharing in the life of God.
The two disciples, after they had recognized Jesus, got up from the table and went to tell the others what they had seen and heard. They had to bear witness to the others, to encourage them, so that they would know that He had risen, and that He was among them again. Of course, when they got there, others had also seen the Risen Lord and had given their testimony to the disciples. To me, this means that we too are being sent out to witness to others about our experience of the Eucharist.
This beautiful gospel of the road to Emmaus invites us to allow this same Jesus to walk with us, and allow our “hearts to burn” and our “eyes to be opened” to recognize the Risen Lord in our midst, and to share Him with others. Indeed, in his conversion, Bogdan Jański, recognize this Jesus who walked with him, giving him Word and Sacrament with which to live in grace and power, and to work for “the resurrection of society”.