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The breaking of the bread

break breadLuke 24:13-35 – The breaking of the bread 


Jesus’ decision to go up to Jerusalem forms a turning point in Luke’s story. The Evangelist reports solemnly: ‘Now as the time drew near for Jesus to be taken up to heaven, he resolutely set out for Jerusalem’ (Lk 9:51). God makes himself known in the events which took place in Jerusalem: the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. But two disciples decide that they have had enough. They are walking to Emmaus, seven miles away from Jerusalem. They are leaving the pivot of God’s salvation history.

The risen Lord sets out on a journey with them. On the journey the travellers tell Jesus, whom they suggest must be the only person in Jerusalem who does not know what has taken place there, that they know everything. Indeed, they know the facts about Jesus. They know of Jesus life as a wonder worker and as a prophet and they witnessed his cruel death. They even know of a visit of the women to the tomb which they found empty and they have heard of the message of the angels: ‘He is alive.’

But with all this knowledge, they did not see Jesus. They have their ideas: ‘we hoped he was the one to redeem Israel’ but this was the very reason for their inability to see Jesus. They had already made up their minds as to who Jesus is and what he should have done for the nation. Because the freedom which the risen Jesus brings is greater than anything they could have hoped for, they are unable to see him.

However, Jesus does not abandon the two disciples. He journeys with them and instructs them through the Scriptures. Showing them that it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer and die. At the end of the day he continues on his way. They must now play their part as they invite him to stay with them. At the table Jesus took the bread, blessed it and gave it to them. The wandering disciples recognize him in the breaking of the bread and immediately they return to Jerusalem, which they never should have left. Arriving in Jerusalem with their good news to tell, they discover that ‘the Lord has risen and appeared to Simon.’ The disciples who have never left Jerusalem know already. The wandering disciples have come home.

How often do we find that the demands of the Lord are too much for us? We too walk away from Jerusalem, where the action of God can be difficult to cope with, especially as it sometimes runs contrary to own hopes. Reading the story of the breaking of the bread at Emmaus we are strengthened in our faltering faith. Jesus sets out to walk with his wandering disciples of every time and place. He instructs and breaks bread with us and in this way, he leads us home.

(Adapted from This is the Gospel of the Lord – Year A, by Francis J. Moloney, pages 114-115)

Acts 2:14a, 36-41

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, 36 Let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.” 37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” 38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.” 40 And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.

Luke 24:13-35

13 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16 but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” 19 He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 22 Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23 and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” 25 Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26 Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

28 As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29 But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” 33 That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34 They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.