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Their eyes were opened and they recognized him. (Luke 24:31).

 It had been a long day of walking, but Cleopas and his friend wanted more time with their traveling companion. The mysterious stranger seemed ignorant of the turmoil of the past few days, but he could explain the Scriptures like no one they had ever heard before. Wanting to hear more, they urged, “Stay with us” (Luke 24:29). So he stayed and shared a meal. Then, with a simple gesture and a simple prayer, he broke bread and gave it to them. And suddenly, their eyes were opened: they recognized their broken Lord, their risen Lord.

Imagine what must have flashed through their minds: “Wait —-that’s what Jesus did! Could this be him?” It was Jesus, who had broken bread, saying , “This is my body” (Mark 14:22). It was Jesus, who prayed, “Father, forgive them” as he hung on the cross (Luke 23:34). It was Jesus , whose promise to rise from the dead shone in their hearts once again. All this came flooding back to them in the moment when he broke the bread.

 In the early Church, the entire Eucharistic celebration was referred to as the breaking of the bread. That’s how important the gesture was. And today, two thousand years later, we still consider the moment when the priest breaks the Host as one of the most solemn parts of the Mass. It’s at that moment that we can recognize Jesus in the Host—-the same Jesus who walked with the disciples on the road to Emmaus.

 What do you see when the bread is broken? Do you see the broken body of the Crucified One who died to bring us back to the Father? Do you see the Risen One who overcame the power of death and who has opened the gates of Heaven to you? He is there, every time, ready to give himself to you in love.

 If you struggle to see Jesus, you’re in good company. The Emmaus disciples couldn’t recognize him right away either. But just as Jesus revealed himself to them, he can open your eyes too. So when the priest breaks the bread and says,”Behold, the Lamb of God,” ask Jesus to open your eyes and your heart. That’s a prayer God will always answer.

 Lord, help me to see you more clearly in the breaking of the bread.”

Ed Connolly