On the Third Sunday of Easter we always hear the Gospel story of the two downcast persons on the road to Emmaus, and of their encounter with the Risen Lord. They are upset and depressed about the crucifixion of Jesus and do not know it is Him when they meet Him on the road leaving Jerusalem. You remember the story—and how it is later at the table when they recognize Him in the breaking of the bread. They ask each other “Were not our hearts burning within us while He spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?” This is one of my personal favorite Scripture stories as it is a great account of our relationship with the Eucharist and hope.
In pondering and praying about this Gospel, I was thinking how due to the pandemic and the “shelter in place-lockdown order” we have had to consider just what communion may mean for us, as we are not receiving the Eucharist together. But we are called to a spiritual communion—which can be comforting and enriching, too.
For the most part, we are all cooking and eating at home. (Although take-out may help, and I do miss breakfast out…) In this pandemic journey we are gathered at our tables in our homes and eating meals together as families—maybe more than “before” when the many work, church, sports, arts, and social activities and schedules kept us from eating meals together regularly. We have the opportunity in this time of “hunker down” to be in “communion” together as families as we break bread—and there are many ways to consider how to do this. Also, remember last week in the Acts of the Apostles we heard how the Disciples “devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.” This is one of David Conrad’s favorite Scripture passages—and it sure describes our current home life now.
My son Elliott was telling me that last weekend that he and his spouse in New York City “met” with another married couple of friends from San Francisco on zoom. They cooked a nice meal together in their separate cities, While visiting, and then ate together, too. They planned the menu and the recipes ahead of time in order to have the needed ingredients, and then enjoyed this special meal together—a communion of friends.
I thought also about the many kind comments from all the people who have enjoyed watching our St. Aidan 10:00am live stream Sunday Mass, and I know that we miss receiving the Eucharist together. Maybe in your meals at home at your tables, some kind of bread could be shared and you could bless each other. (I did speak with Fr. Kevin about this and he said anyone can bless anyone at any time.) This recalls the Polish custom of oplatki at Christmas—where they break a wafer-like cracker, bless and offer each other a piece of it along with personal blessings and good wishes for each other for the future; or just telling the person to whom you are offering the wafer what they mean to you—another “communion” of custom, culture and love—something like how we speak of gratitude at the Thanksgiving table. In the breaking of the bread—even at home—we remember our love and faith in Christ, and appreciate each other.
We know we have the blessed assurance of resurrection; we are not and never abandoned—we have the Holy Spirit to keep us company until we die and rise. In the midst of this pandemic we have the opportunity to have our hearts burn with love for each other as we live out our Baptismal promises in our shelters. Are you filled with God’s presence—in spite of the restrictions and limitations with which we live? The Psalm Response (#16) reminds us today that we take refuge in God; that with God by our side we are undisturbed, glad, and confident in all things with Him always set before us. We are challenged every day and every moment to have this recognition of God in our midst—in spite of social distancing, wearing masks, and no physical Eucharist. May we always live in the joy of this knowledge and truth! And may your hearts burn within you!
Just a note: Here is some music I would like to share with you today sent to me by Nick Canzano—one of the Contemporary Group guitarists. Nick is playing a lovely jazz rendition of “The Way We Were.” It is not entirely “liturgical”— but, I know that we all yearn at times for “before.” Thanks, Nick for sharing!
The Way We Were wmulti-intro.mp4
I also strongly encourage you to go to Facebook and listen to the father/daughter duo of Matt and Savana Shaw singing “The Prayer.” It is lovely and inspiring—God is so generous with blessings and gifts!
I came across this poem "Do More Than” by Anonymous today. It made me consider the challenge of being the best versions of ourselves that God created us to be—especially in this challenge of quarantine—it is food for thought…or maybe, bread…
Do More Than
Do more than exist; Live
Do more than hear; Listen!
Do more than agree; Cooperate!
Do more than talk; Communicate!
Do more than spend; Invest!
Do more than think; create!
Do more than work; Excel!
Do more than share; Give!
Do more than consider; Commit!
Do more than forgive; Forget!
Do more than help; Serve!
Do more than see; Perceive!
Do more than read; Apply!
Do more than receive; Reciprocate!
Do more than advise; Help!
Do more than encourage; Inspire!
Do more than change; Improve!
Do more than reach; Stretch!
Do more than grow; Bloom!
And: Do more than dream; Do!