Law and Bread

Emmaus

Law and Bread

Greetings on this the Third Sunday of Easter

Readings: ACTS 2:14, 22-33; PS 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11; 1 PT 1:17-21; LK 24:13-35

Special Circumstances

Note: Mass for this 3rd Sunday of Easter will be done via live streaming. The public will be unable to attend due to the necessity of physical separation during the rolling waves of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since I will be preaching this Mass I thought it might be good to share my notes and research. As I continue to pray and discern the content of the Homily and await the gift of the Holy Spirit in the moment of diaconal ministry, you can compare and contrast the written text in this blog entry and oral proclamation after posted on Sunday afternoon. I find the process interesting and I hope you do too. Please feel free to comment on the blog entry. In terms of presentation I already see my sometimes weak transitions and too broad focus and other such technical observations. I invite you to do likewise. But alas, I cannot do anything about the baldness.

After Sunday, April 26th, 2020, you can view the Mass on-line at one of these two places:

YouTube Link: sacredheartcatholichurchoflakeworth

Facebook Link: sacredheartcatholicchurchlakeworth

Thank You Father

Ever get a really cool gift? I mean one that speaks volumes about how the gift giver obviously thought through the gift and your needs and with great consideration places a symbol of their love for you in a package with a bow and wrapping paper.

Do you ever notice how the gift giver has a great expectation on the way you receive that gift? Their eyes are wide open watching you open the gift and hoping that the interior gift will rise higher than the actual thing presented?

We celebrate Easter as a seven week celebration. A celebration of Resurrection.

From Easter Sunday to Pentecost with Ascension of the Lord the week prior, we celebrate exuberantly, joyfully, with songs on our lips and within our hearts.

We celebrate the gift of Resurrection. During Lent we contemplate the necessity of the Crucifixion and the propitiation of sin. During Lent we accept our need for a Messiah.

During Easter Season we have opened the gift and have seen with our own eyes through the eyes of the Apostles and Disciples of Jesus the real and bodily Resurrection. Ultimately too the Ascension and the giving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

Second Week Leading to the 3rd Sunday

In the week leading to the 3rd Sunday of Easter the cycle makes certain to include multiple Gospel readings form the period of Resurrection to Ascension. This week it was Mark 16 and Luke 24.

The 2nd Week also reads the entire chapter 3 of Gospel of John – a must beloved and quoted chapter!

Making Sense of Senses

So one thing we have to be certain to establish is there is a literary sense to the sacred Scriptures. There is also a spiritual sense. The spiritual sense cannot be derived without first going through the literary sense.

Sense of Scripture:

  • Literal Sense – all scripture has a literal sense (what is meant), not a LITERAL account but a narrated story with a purpose.
  • Spiritual Sense – three types
    • Spiritual as Allegory (figurative treatment of one subject under the guise of another),
    • Moral (what ought to be)
    • Anagogic (future sense, usually the Eternal sense or concepts in regards to the Eternal)

Both the literary and spiritual senses are presented using Literary Forms.

(A document with some additional teaching points here: Notes for Background of Scripture Updated Blog Version).

Supporting Research

The beautiful and beautifully presented story of The Appearance on the Road to Emmaus is worthy of our Joyful embrace of the Resurrection and the KEY purpose of the story.

It is worthy study to engage the use of etymology – word roots and usage. The story contains many possible references that make for the potential of deeper meanings.

It is worthy study to engage the use of numerology – the hidden use of numbers with symbolic meanings. The story contains many possible references that make for the potential of deeper meanings.

But it can fall off the rails sometimes. For example, one aspiring researcher lamented that if the two disciples traveled 7 miles from Jerusalem he questioned that scripture observation. He used google maps to map out all cities that claim today or in the past to be the city know in scripture as Emmaus. I think we can applaud the researcher and also gently encourage him to step off that line of inquiry as it is so difficult a path and not likely to yield additional literal or spiritual meaning.

Since the number 7 is used (a perfect number) on the first day of the week (Sunday, for us we see that as the new Sabbath) there is a hint to a meaning here of a spiritual dimension as the researcher is trying to discern.

Some suggest the distance they are traveling is the maximum allowed in a day or on a Sabbath. But that would be over reach. Not supported.

So what are we to derive from this at first review? We have to wait to use other techniques first and then come back to it.

Literary Structure

It is often easier to simply ask the twin questions, ‘What is the narrative?’ and ‘What is the technique?’

In linear fashion we can see:

  1. ON the SAME Day as the Resurrection two disciples were traveling to Emmaus – which is 7 miles away.
  2. Jesus accompanied them incognito in some fashion they were unable to recognize him.
  3. After prompting, they relate their concern to Jesus.
  4. Then they relate their disappointment and surprise by the testimony of the women as to the empty tomb.
  5. Jesus, gently corrects them.
  6. Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets he relates to them what is revealed about him in sacred Scripture.
  7. The disciples encouraged Jesus to stay with them out of their concern for Jesus, a stranger (so it seemed).
  8. Jesus sat at table, broke the bread: blessing, broke it and gave it to them.
  9. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him.
  10. But he disappeared from their sight.
  11. They rushed back to Jerusalem to add their account to the other accounts about the appearances of Jesus Resurrected.
  12. How he was made known in the Breaking of the Bread.

Some key components of the narrative highlighted.

  1. ON the SAME Day as the Resurrection two disciples were traveling to Emmaus – which is 7 miles away.
  2. Jesus accompanied them incognito in some fashion they were unable to recognize him.
  3. After prompting, they relate their concern to Jesus.
  4. Then after they relate their disappointment and told their surprise by the testimony of the women as to the empty tomb.
  5. Jesus, gently corrects them.
  6. Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets he relates to them what is revealed about him in sacred Scripture.
  7. The disciples encouraged Jesus to stay with them out of their concern for Jesus, a stranger (so it seemed).
  8. Jesus sat at table, broke the bread: blessing, broke it and gave it to them.
  9. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him.
  10. But he disappeared from their sight.
  11. They rushed back to Jerusalem to add their account to the other accounts about the appearances of Jesus Resurrected.
  12. They relayed how he was made known in the Breaking of the Bread.

The disappearance is a binding supernatural event that binds the Breaking of the Bread with the Proclamation of the Breaking of the Bread (lines 8-9 and 11-12 – not verse numbers). This supernatural literary bridge between the Bread Breaking and the Knowing and Professing (an actual event used for a narrative purpose here) makes them

The Resurrection if TIGHTLY linked to the Breaking of the Bread.

The Old Testament is used as proof text to the authenticity of Jesus by Jesus.

The Last Supper is a supernatural event and the central point of the narrative.

This Bread is what is preeminent in the conclusion of the story: We know him in the breaking of the bread.

I understand some of you are challenged to accept the Real Presence and the Sacramental theology. Let us set that aside for a moment.

In the literary and spiritual sense (anagogic) it is the bread breaking (blessing and breaking) presence that is primary conclusion of this narrative.

And to borrow from a brother, it is all three tenses past, present and future.

How? Look at the simplest level of literary sense. We don’t even need more sophisticated theological understanding.

This is about the Resurrection – the great manifestation of the promise of the Messiah – freedom form death.

In the past the Old Testament speaks in diffused terms and is now made clear by Jesus what it means.

In the present the disciples said ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke on the way and opened the scripture for us?

In the future the disciples proclaim as we do today and continue until the end of time, that he is made known to us in the breaking of the bread.

Now the Homily….

Law and Bread

The Easter season is a seven week celebration of the Resurrection.

The story of the Road to Emmaus distinctly celebrates the Resurrection in the context of the Last Supper.

These disciples made tracks to Emmaus a seven mile journey. They must have been quite upset. I mean the missing from the narrative…. They didn’t even wait for the funeral.

On the day of the Resurrection the women went to prepare the body of Jesus. Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary, the mother of James, were all thinking to prepare Jesus for a proper burial and the prayers of the faithful. Even Peter and the apostle Jesus loved ran to see for themselves.

At the same time, Cleopas and another hit the trail.

How deep the disappointment. How challenged the love to not even do the respectful thing. Did not even Lazarus get prayers and dirge songs when he died?

This happened in the current time too. I have seen people skip out on funerals for their love was so bruised.

Yet Jesus did not abandon them. If we are faithless he remains faithful for he cannot deny himself (private note: see brother I remember your teaching!).

He journeys with them and their basic question. Did sacred Scripture lie to us? Is this promised Messiah (which we want to believe he is) really a lie actually?

Did you break the promise of the psalmist (PS 16): you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld.

Is the psalmist wrong in PS 17: The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.

It doesn’t seem that way.

Ah, but Jesus is with them.

He explains and shows them the truth of sacred Scripture.

Then he reveals what has happened that brings the fullness of the sacred Scriptures these disciples are questioning. The blessing and breaking of the bread.

Later they recount how when he taught that to them their hearts grew stronger and peaceful.

The Law perfectly points to the Bread that is Jesus. The Resurrected Jesus.

Jesus has always accompanied those who followed the Law for they are offered the fullness of Law in his person.

Sacramental Memorial

This narrative in both literary and spiritual senses reveals that the Breaking of the Bread is a supernatural event that is to be shared and proclaimed.

It has its mystery, yes. Just like the Old Testament did. Yet Jesus accompanies us in our journey reassuring us his presence in the sacred Bread and in our lives.

It times of crisis it is tempting to be a Cleopas. Let’s run away. It’s all an illusion. It’s all a lie.

But, no, know Jesus accompanies you even there.

And he beacons you back to himself. In scripture. In person. In bread.

Come celebrate the Resurrection. Share the sacred mystery of the Bread that is Jesus.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

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