You know that feeling when you are walking through the store or in a large public area and all of a sudden think you recognize someone? Typically excitement floods our being as we try to navigate the crowds to meet with our friend from long ago. Or perhaps we try to dodge this person because the last time we saw them it was not a pleasant experience. Lots of emotions are conjured up when we encounter someone we haven’t seen for a long period of time.
I like to put myself in the place of the disciples in the Gospel today. As Jesus broke the bread and started the blessing, I would not have been able to contain my excitement. This man that I had been reading about in the scriptures and talking about is now here in front of me, about to give me his very self in the sacrament of love.
I also like to think that Jesus was being funny and disguised himself just to see what they thought of him and then dramatically took his disguise off to reveal he had been there all along. Jesus playing a funny prank on the disciples. Of course, that ruins the theological significance of this passage, but it’s funny in my mind.
So what is the significance? Jesus is adamant about the reality of the Eucharist as being fully himself and his love. I mean think about it, before he even died, he knew the importance of giving this sacrament. After he resurrected from the dead and was still with the disciples he taught the importance of it. Then, of course, after Jesus ascended to be with the Father, he left us this beautiful sacrament so he would always be with us.
Then there is the significance that they read the scriptures, the word of God, but they did not recognize Jesus. They only recognized him through the breaking of the bread. The bible itself tells us of the necessity of eating his flesh and drinking his blood in order to have eternal life. So as much as we need the bible to recognize him, the word of God reminds us that we have the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus on every altar in every Catholic church in the world.
This is why the world has such a longing right now for the Eucharist. I have had a very unique experience since the stay at home orders came out. I work for the parish and have been setting up the live stream for daily Mass, so I have had the complete blessing of receiving every day. Though I don’t feel the ache that some have now for the Eucharist, I have been offering my presence at Mass for all those who are not able to attend in person and receive.
I must say this has been a time that my faith is coming alive. I have been able to receive so I have been much more intentional about it knowing so much of the world is going without. It helps me not to take the Eucharist for granted.
Jesus wants to be with us in this sacrament, but until the moment when we can all receive publicly again, let’s all pray for a new understanding of the Eucharist; for an increase in faith in the most blessed sacrament. Let’s make sure that when churches are opened back up and we say “Amen” that we recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread. May God bless you and know of my prayers for you during this time.
Tommy Shultz is Director of Evangelization for the North Allegan Catholic Collaborative and the founder of Rodzinka Ministries. In these roles, he is committed to bringing all those he meets into a deeper relationship with Christ. Tommy has a heart and a flair for inspiring people to live their faith every day. He has worked in various youth ministry, adult ministry, and diocesan roles. He has been a featured speaker at retreats and events across the country. His mission and drive have been especially inspired by St. John Paul II’s teachings. Tommy is blessed to be able to learn from the numerous parishes he visits and pass that experience on in his presentations. With a degree in Theology from Franciscan University, Tommy hopes to use his knowledge to help all people understand the beauty of The Faith.