Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, "What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?" They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, "Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?" He asked them, "What things?" They replied, "The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him." Then he said to them, "Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?" Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, "Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over." So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said 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?" That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, "The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!" Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread. -Luke 24:13-35
"My flesh," Christ says to us, "is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed... He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood abideth in me and I in him... As the Father hath given me to have life in myself, so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me." To eat his flesh, to drink his blood, to eat him, to absorb into ourselves the living God - it is beyond any wish we might be capable of forming for ourselves, yet it satisfies to the full what we long for, - of necessity long for, - from the bottom of our souls.
Bread is food. It is wholesome, nourishing food for which we never lose our appetite. Under the form of bread God becomes for us even the food of life. “We break a bread,” writes Saint Ignatius of Antioch to the faithful at Ephesus, "we break a bread that is the food of immortality." By this food our being is so nourished with God himself that we exist in him and he in us. -Romano Guardini 1885-1968 Sacred Signs
Bread of the world, in mercy broken, Wine of the soul, in mercy shed, by whom the words of life were spoken, and in whose death our sins are dead: look on the heart by sorrow broken, look on the tears by sinners shed; and be thy feast to us the token that by thy grace our souls are fed.
-Reginald Heber 1783-1826 (quoted from Hymnal 1982)
Supper at Emmaus, Caravaggio, 1606
Meditation Two (insight) make our inward vision clear
Word made flesh, the bread he taketh,/ by his word his Flesh to be;/ wine his sacred Blood he maketh, though the senses fail to see;/ faith alone the true heart waketh/ to the behold the mystery.
Therefore we, before him bending,/ this great Sacrament revere;/ types and shadows have their ending,/ for the newer rite is here;/ faith, our outward sense befriending,/ makes our inward vision clear.
-attributed to Thomas Aquinas c.1225-1274 (Hymnal 1982 #329, 330, 331)
Meditation Three (integration) contingent beings
The loaf draws us. It easily stands for the cooperation of human work with the land, for the survival of the tribe or family, for the circle of shared eating, set against famine and death. Because of these meanings, the loaf comes to mean more than its momentary utilitarian value. It may stand for peaceful order and life; indeed, it carries intimations of a larger order than that enjoyed by this circle eating now. The power of the loaf as symbol is heightened, of course, because it tames and transforms its opposite. We eat to live. In this truth, death is suggested: without eating we would die, and even now our life is sustained by the death of the plants and, if we consume meat with our bread, of the animals around us. In eating we are at the edge, the limit, of our possibilities: "By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return." (Gen. 3:19). Bread is never far from death. At the loaf we may know ourselves to be contingent beings, dependent on that which is outside us.
-Gordon W. Lathrop Holy Things: A Liturgical Theology
The Last Word
Be known to us in breaking bread, and do not then depart; Savior, abide with us, and spread thy table in our heart.
-James Montgomery (1771-1854) (Hymnal 1982 #343)
O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread: Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Collect for Easter 3 The Book of Common Prayer (American)