GOSPEL MESSAGE & RECORDING
Rev. Fr. Gheevarghese John
Life is a journey filled with “life-changing” moments that define who we are. In the Gospel of Luke Chapter 24, two men, Cleopas and another disciple, are walking from a small town called Emmaus to the city of Jerusalem. On their journey they begin to chitchat about their master, Jesus, and all that had happened to him—His trial, passion, death and burial. As they continue to walk, the resurrected Jesus walks next to them and begins to converse. They disciples are not aware that it is Jesus, (Luke 24:16) for their eyes were restrained from recognizing Him. As they continue to walk the disciples are surprised that this individual doesn’t know what has happened in Jerusalem in the past few days. Of course, Jesus being disguised is leading them on, attempting to examine them to see if they believed in Him; that is, if they understood that He was the one prophesied in the Law, Psalms and Prophet and indeed He had to suffer, die and rise again, in order to fulfill the Scriptures. When it became obvious that they did not understand, Jesus opened the Scriptures and explained that He, Jesus, fulfills the Scriptures. But still their eyes were not opened. It is the following verses (Luke 24:28-35) that their eyes are opened and they recognized that it was Jesus.
Evening was soon approaching and the disciples needed to rest, so they found a place to lodge. There, Jesus sat down at a table, took bread, blessed and broke it. (Luke 24:30-31) It was here that the disciples’ eyes were opened and they recognized that the man they had been speaking to on their journey was their master Jesus Christ.
This Gospel passage clearly indicates that it was at the “breaking of bread” that the disciples’ eyes were opened. Even though they walked and talked with Him, they couldn’t experience His “fullness,” until He broke bread with them. Here, “breaking bread” is not simply about eating a meal. It’s more than that. It’s about “His Body.” This signifies the Eucharist, which Christ instituted at the Last Supper. “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, "Take and eat; this is my body." Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins." (Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24, Luke 22:17-20, 1 Corinthians 11:23-25) The Bible clearly teaches us that this bread is not mere bread but through Christ’s “blessing” it becomes His body. This is the experience that an Orthodox (and Catholic) Christian has every Sunday. When one approaches the Cup, it’s the really Body and Blood that is placed in their mouth. This is the greatest way to experience Christ. Indeed you can experience Him by listening to sermons, joining fellowships, praying and reading the Bible. But the true experience is in receiving His Body and Blood. It is by partaking in His Body and Blood that a “true” union occurs with Christ and us. Anything less is only a partial experience.
Today, realize that when you receive the Body and Blood of Christ that you are truly experiencing Christ in your life and literally in your body. Take it seriously! If you are an Orthodox Christian, understand that like the disciples you are on a journey. And on this journey the ultimate aim is to experience our Savior. Don’t approach the Cup unprepared--pray, fast, forgive, love, show mercy, and be gracious.