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In the Breaking

First Reading: Acts 3:1-10

Peter and John were going up to the temple area
for the three o’clock hour of prayer.
And a man crippled from birth was carried
and placed at the gate of the temple called “the Beautiful Gate” every day
to beg for alms from the people who entered the temple.
When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple,
he asked for alms.
But Peter looked intently at him, as did John,
and said, “Look at us.”
He paid attention to them, expecting to receive something from them.
Peter said, “I have neither silver nor gold,
but what I do have I give you:
in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, rise and walk.”
Then Peter took him by the right hand and raised him up,
and immediately his feet and ankles grew strong.
He leaped up, stood, and walked around,
and went into the temple with them,
walking and jumping and praising God.
When all the people saw him walking and praising God,
they recognized him as the one
who used to sit begging at the Beautiful Gate of the temple,
and they were filled with amazement and astonishment
at what had happened to him.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 105:1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8-9

R. (3b) Rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord.
Give thanks to the LORD, invoke his name;
make known among the nations his deeds.
Sing to him, sing his praise,
proclaim all his wondrous deeds.
R. Rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord.
Glory in his holy name;
rejoice, O hearts that seek the LORD!
Look to the LORD in his strength;
seek to serve him constantly.
R. Rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord.
You descendants of Abraham, his servants,
sons of Jacob, his chosen ones!
He, the LORD, is our God;
throughout the earth his judgments prevail.
R. Rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord.
He remembers forever his covenant
which he made binding for a thousand generations—
Which he entered into with Abraham
and by his oath to Isaac.
R. Rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord.

Gospel: Luke 24:13-35

That very day, the first day of the week,
two of Jesus’ disciples were going
to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus,
and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.
And it happened that while they were conversing and debating,
Jesus himself drew near and walked with them,
but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.
He asked them,
“What are you discussing as you walk along?”
They stopped, looking downcast.
One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply,
“Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem
who does not know of the things
that have taken place there in these days?”
And he replied to them, “What sort of things?”
They said to him,
“The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene,
who was a prophet mighty in deed and word
before God and all the people,
how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over
to a sentence of death and crucified him.
But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel;
and besides all this,
it is now the third day since this took place.
Some women from our group, however, have astounded us:
they were at the tomb early in the morning
and did not find his Body;
they came back and reported
that they had indeed seen a vision of angels
who announced that he was alive.
Then some of those with us went to the tomb
and found things just as the women had described,
but him they did not see.”
And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are!
How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!
Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things
and enter into his glory?”
Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets,
he interpreted to them what referred to him
in all the Scriptures.
As they approached the village to which they were going,
he gave the impression that he was going on farther.
But they urged him, “Stay with us,
for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.”
So 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 recognized him,
but he vanished from their sight.
Then they said to each other,
“Were not our hearts burning within us
while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?”
So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem
where they found gathered together
the Eleven and those with them who were saying,
“The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!”
Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way
and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

NAB

march 30

“He was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.”

This has been a precious passage to me in my nearly-nine-years as a Catholic. At first, I clung to it as some sort of Biblical proof of my new-found sacramental belief and theology. And it was, in a way.

In this story, Jesus revealed Himself to His own followers in the breaking of the bread. They felt their hearts burning while He spoke to them about the Scriptures, but they didn’t see His face until He broke the bread, in a beautiful foreshadowing of the Eucharist. I found that so incredibly validating on my own journey down the road into the Catholic Church—I felt like one of those disciples heading for the table where, in the Eucharist, I would see Jesus in a new way. And I did—I really did.

But this passage has taken on some different and deeper meaning for me personally in the last few years. I have been undergoing some deep healing from the effects of my legalistic/fundamentalist upbringing (mostly concerning how I have always looked at God the Father)—and to say it has been painful would be an understatement.

I am now looking back over my life and seeing just how much safety and security I sought in “right belief”—even as an Evangelical Protestant, my religion was nearly synonymous with my adherence to a code of morality. I was walking on the road to Emmaus and Jesus was revealing Himself to me in the law and the Prophets—in words, ideas, and teachings. I don’t look back on those years with shame and regret, because it was a pilgrimage (still is) and at least I was walking forward. And I did have one thing right: Christ would reveal Himself to me in the Eucharist like He did in the breaking of the bread in this passage.

But what I didn’t know was that it would be a revelation involving great pain. Through the Sacrament, He would proceed to break me open and perform painful surgeries on some of those same things that led me to Him in the first place—my desire for rightness, my intellectualism, my fear of doing the wrong thing, my passion for theology and correct belief.

Jesus wisely chose something humble and simple with which to reveal Himself. He planted Himself firmly on our soil and showed Himself in things like death, crushed wheat, and bruised grapes—broken bread. And no amount of “right knowledge” or intellectual eliteness will ever qualify one person over another to encounter that same Jesus.

Jesus revealed Himself to me in the breaking of the bread, and then I knew that all the obsessing over right thinking I had done, all the hours I had spent slaving away for the taskmaster of intellectualism had led me right to a Jesus who would promptly knock those legs out from under me and show me His love in the death of a grain of wheat, in the bruising of a grape—and it wasn’t because I had reasoned my way down the road. It was because He loved me before I had even begun the journey.

Ask the Lord for childlike faith and simplicity, even in the midst of right belief/passion for good theology.

photo credit

Audrey Assad is a wife, mother and musician. You can find out more about her here.

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