Bread for the journey

Fr Tom’s reflection from the final ‘Bread for the Journey’ daily Eucharist for Mission on Friday.

Taken, blessed, broken and shared: The Eucharistic Centre of a Mission Community.

‘When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.’

Throughout the week we have been focused on the actions of Jesus in the Emmaus story: Jesus meets his disciples, Jesus listens to them, journeys alongside them, opens the scriptures to them, and in breaking the bread he opens their eyes to him.

This evening I want to talk about what we recognize as Jesus’s Eucharistic action in the story, and how it inspires us to live as a Eucharistic community, and to reflect on our experiences this week.

  1. Jesus takes,
  2. Jesus blesses
  3. Jesus breaks
  4. Jesus shares

It is the story of a vocation. Firstly, Jesus takes: As one hymn says ‘Jesus calls us; o’er the tumult of our life’s wild, restless sea, day by day his clear voice soundeth, saying, “Christian, follow me;” In another ‘Take up thy cross the Saviour says’, and last Sunday at our mission launch we sang ‘Here I am Lord. Is it I Lord? I have heard you calling in the night’. To be a Christian is to receive that calling to spread the Good News in making disciples ‘of all nations’. Like the Eucharistic offering we are laid bare in Christ’s hands. God who knew us in our Mother’s womb, in whose book all our days are written, who knows our humble frame intimately, looks upon our offering of ourself in his hands just as the priest looks upon the simple bread of the poor which will become the Eucharistic Host.

Jesus calls us all, asking us each and everyone to walk as his disciple. As he called Simon and the fishermen away from their nets, so he calls each of us to live as his followers. What is he calling you to? How have you experienced that sense of calling, of placing yourself in God’s hands in our journey this week?

The second point: Jesus blesses. Our God knows how to give us good gifts, and one of the aims of this week has been to recognize where those gifts lie. Perhaps this week you have been asked to step outside of your comfort zone, perhaps to organize or lead an event, perhaps to have a conversation with someone you wouldn’t normally see, or speak to. How has God gifted you this week? Through the gifts God has given to you he has enriched our community, and this week we have celebrated and sought to discern those gifts by taking a different perspective on our daily life together. Discernment is one of God’s greatest gifts and we exercise it together.

Jesus breaks: Even Peter, Jesus’s rock, is broken. He says to Jesus ‘leave me Lord, for I am a sinful man’, and throughout Jesus’s ministry we hear of Peter’s over enthusiasm (‘I will never leave you Lord’), Peter getting the wrong end of the stick, and of Peter’s denial and abandonment of Jesus. Yet knowing all this Jesus makes Peter the rock on which he builds his Church. We are all imperfect, broken and in need of healing. However to say we are broken is not to say we are of no good, but that we are incomplete. We are a small part of something much bigger, the Body of Christ, and we come back to him to be made whole. We are designed to be complete in our relationship with God, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in him. Jesus came to repair that relationship, and in doing so to bring us that wholeness which God intended for us in the first place. Peter runs away with the other disciples and abandons Jesus in his Passion. Like a vase that is dropped, the pieces scatter everywhere. Yet when Peter and the disciples return to Jesus they are restored, and Peter is given the charge ‘tend my lambs’.

How have you felt brokenness and wholeness this week?

Jesus shares: There is a difference between being broken like that vase, shattered in pieces, and being broken to be shared. An accidental break, a fracture, needs to be repaired, but if I took out a large bar of chocolate now and broke it into pieces, it wouldn’t be an accident. I would be doing it to include you. The good thing which has been my gift, can in turn become a blessing to you. It is so with Christ who gave himself for us on the cross, and gives himself to us again and again in the Eucharist. When we come back to him in our brokenness asking him to be the piece that completes us and makes us whole, he gives himself to us, breaking himself into pieces so that we can all be a part of his body, the Church. In the Emmaus story we know that his disciples knew Jesus, and recognised him in this generous act of love: the breaking of the bread.

How have you felt Christ’s generous, self-giving love this week?

We are ‘taken’ or ‘called’. We are ‘blessed’ with gifts. We are ‘broken’, and we are to be ‘shared’, extending the generous love we have received to others. Can we truly say this is the calling we embrace as a mission community? How can we better model this generous love that is at the core of our Christian identity?

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