ANY A RETREAT has been given around the theme of the ‘Emmaus Walk’, especially about the idea of how the two disciples were walking with Jesus and did not realize it. They finally recognized Him when they were at a meal with Him and Jesus said the blessing and broke the bread and began to distribute it to them. I know there will probably be differences of opinion among Scripture scholars as to whether Jesus was actually repeating or saying what we know as a Mass. Certainly it is a fact that the early Church often referred to the Mass as the “Breaking of the Bread.” This is the term that St. Luke uses in his writings. In view of the importance that the Mass was to have in the religion or Church that Jesus founded, it certainly would seem that it was most fitting that Jesus would have done this.
But of course Jesus did not leave us with any systematic theology books or texts. In fact He didn’t leave us with any of the New Testament being written. By his time the Old Testament had all been written, but none of the New Testament. At this point in time the Church was a very tiny development consisting of eleven apostles, Mary, His Mother, some of the faithful women and a few others. This was before Pentecost. And admittedly those must have been very bleak days even though the apostles had the assurance that Jesus had come back to life. We can only imagine what role Mary, His mother must have had during those days. We don’t really know.
The First Reading: In the first reading though we do have St. Peter’s first speech or public address on the first Pentecost. One wonders how the man, who in the presence of a young maiden denied that he even knew Jesus, now got up in public and proclaimed that Jesus of Nazareth was a man whom God sent to you with miracles, wonders and signs. You used pagans to crucify and kill Him, but God raised Him up again. Then Peter quotes from one of the Psalms which foreshadows Christ’s resurrection. Of course the Jews would have been very familiar with this Psalm. It must have really surprised them to realize that this psalm that they had been saying all these years referred to Jesus.
First Letter of Peter: It might be noted that St. Peter wrote this letter from Rome around the year 63 AD and that it was written to Christian Communities in Asia Minor. St. Peter is mainly trying to encourage them, reminding them of their dignity, especially because they were not redeemed by perishable silver or gold, but by Christ’s own Blood that is beyond all price. In many respects we can consider this first letter of St. Peter like a first Papal encyclical. It certainly is evidence already of the primacy and importance that Peter must have had in the early Church.
Today’s Communion verse is appropriately taken from the Gospel. In some respects this is the ideal situation. It as it were applies the fruits of the redemption wrought in the Gospel applied to the graces received in Communion. Our faith also tells us that the Lord is present in the shared Bread which is the Eucharist. Yes we consume the Eucharist and at the same time we adore the Eucharist. These actions are not mutually exclusive. Like the disciples we must also recognize the Lord Jesus in the breaking of bread.
We hope you enjoyed this homily by Fr. Valentine Young, OFM.