Breaking is not always a bad thing!


“Then they told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised him at the breaking of bread” (Luke 24:35).

Did Not Our Hearts Burn within Us by Michael Malm, Utah, oil painting, 40” x 30”
Painting: Michael Malm, Did Not Our Hearts Burn Within Us? (Utah, oil on canvas, 40” x 30”)

What is the core significance of the breaking of the bread so that it allowed the two disciples to recognise Jesus?

First of all, it’s the breaking (klásis in Greek, implying a process, an action) of the bread, not the broken bread (the klásmata, implying an object, as in John 6:12 and 13) , not the pieces of bread, the fragments he broke off the loaf.

Aha! So it’s the act of breaking, the action, the breaking.

Breaking means not letting something remain one whole thing; dividing, fragmenting, not keeping whole.

In so doing, in breaking a loaf of bread, more people can share in it.

– Breaking means one can see even the inside of the loaf.
– Breaking means releasing even the nice smell of the bread.
– Breaking implies having a fuller, more complete experience of what the loaf of bread is.

If the two disciples, Cleopas and (possibly) Mrs Mary Cleopas (see John 19:25), recognised Jesus in the breaking of the bread, it means they got a fuller experience of him. They now came to know him …

in breaking himself for them
in giving himself to them
in knowing him inside out, literally!

With every breaking of the bread we take part in, at every Mass, do we come to know Jesus a bit better, a bit deeper?

Are we on a journey Mass in Mass out -as in day in, day out- in knowing Jesus inside out?

How does Jesus smell? If the shepherd should smell like his sheep, the sheep must know the smell of their shepherd

What is the colour and texture of his interior, of his Spirit?

Who is Jesus?

How does he break himself for me, for me specifically, not for us, for me specifically?
When I recognise him, what is it that I recognise in him?
How do I recognise him?
Every time I recognise him, who does Jesus become to me?

How do the two disciples of Emmaus themselves explain their recognizing ‘the Stranger’? The moment they recognise him, they exclaim 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?” (Luke 24:32) Meaning: ‘We should have recognised him in his breaking the word for us!’ Which is what we ourselves do – even symbolise in gestures – at every Eucharistic Meal.

Just after the Liturgy of the Word, just before the preparation of the offerings, the priest opens the corporal cloth in the form of a cross.

korporalJust as the Risen Lord Jesus “opens the Scriptures for us, while walking with us” (see Luke 24:32) in the Liturgy of the Word, so now he ‘opens’ himself on the cross of the altar of redemption and in the tomb of resurrection. The Maltese verb ‘spjega’ describes this gesture and its meaning in a very clear and pictorial way: spjega, from the negating ‘s-’ and ‘piega’, ineħħi l-pjiegi, it-tinjiet, taking away the creases or folds, just as ‘spjega’ is also ‘ineħħi l-pjiegi u t-tinjiet’ of what is not clear or folded or needs opening in the Word of God.

– Does the Word open up the mystery of the Risen Lord for me so that I can recognise him everywhere, anywhere, but most especially in the Eucharistic Meal and Mystery?

– And how do I recognise him in a way that I can go and walk with him in everyday life, beyond the Altar of the Word and the Table of the Eucharistic Banquet?

By Fr Paul Sciberras

Published by

Joe Farrugia

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