Christ’s presence both in Word and in Sacrament

Today’s Gospel reading is probably one of the best-known passages of the Bible. It carries a powerful message to people of every age. Many can identify with the two disciples as they walked along the road to Emmaus. In our own journey with the Lord, there are times when our faith can be weak or strong; times when we are full of hope, or feel in need of hope. Jesus walked with the disciples on their journey, as he does in ours. Many times, although he is there, we do not recognise him. That is because he comes to us through the ordinary, everyday experiences of our lives.

However, today’s readings do invite us to reflect on the presence of Christ in the Mass, in the Scripture readings, and in the Eucharist. Christ is truly present in both. It is rarely necessary to recall once again the basic truth, so emphasised by the Church in recent documents, that Christ is present in his Word, since it is he himself who speaks, when the holy scriptures are read in the Church. The Scripture readings bring the old and the new together for us – the meaning they had for their first readers or listeners, and the application that they can be put to today, in our changed and challenging circumstances. This contact with the Bible reading, is no mere intellectual exercise. In it, when approached in faith, Christ is present through his grace, and the Holy Spirit. While we spend time at home, if we have a Missal at hand, we could read and reflect on our Sunday or Weekday readings, and let the Lord speak to us through his Word!

And, needless to say, Christ is present in a very special way in the Eucharist, in the breaking of bread, an action that brings to mind, the multiple meanings the breaking of bread had for Jesus, during his lifetime on earth, and after his resurrection.

Although we are not able to receive the Lord in Holy Communion at present, he still comes to us, and is always with us. However, once this crisis is over, it might make us think more about what we are missing out on. That phrase “absence makes the heart grow fonder” comes to mind. At this moment in time, we are a bit like the disciples, hiding away in fear, before Pentecost. When we are finally able to go back to Church and celebrate Mass as a community, let’s fling open our doors, and gather together in the power of his Spirit! I’m sure when this eventually happens, we will be able to recall the words of the disciples in today’s Gospel: “Did not our hearts burn within us”!