June 18, 2018, 8:30 pm
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The bread of forgiveness and-peace

THE two Disciples recounted, what had taken place on the way, and how Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of bread.

While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.

While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them.

He said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”

***

During these Sundays of Easter, all of Jesus’ appearances are revelatory moments. Let us take a closer look at this today’s Good News taken from the gospel of Luke.

It has been longstanding tradition that the place the disciples chose to gather on the first day of the week was the upper room where they had shared their last meal with Jesus. Jesus, who had used meals as opportunities to teach, was best remembered in such a setting. In Luke’s account, food is certainly present; Jesus asks, “Have you anything here to eat?” They give him a piece of cooked fish, which he took and ate in their presence. Come to think of it, it is interesting how often food comes up in the appearances.

On an elementary level, the food can be an evidence that Christ was physically present, that he was able to take in food. But there are deeper and richer ways of looking at this preoccupation with food. Eating together had been a principal hallmark of Jesus’ ministry. He frequently referred to eating together as a sign of peace of God’s reign where all will sit down together and the poor would have enough to eat. Eating with the disciples shows that he had forgiven, their lack of faith, but more importantly the reign he had promised is now becoming reality.

The eating by Jesus testifies to these signs of peace and forgiveness given in the context of eating. Jesus’ first words in his appearance were: “Peace to you.” This greeting is no ordinary peace. It is the biblical word shalom which means more than the end of violence and conflict. It is the state in which the world is meant to be. It is the best description of what the reign of God will be like: a place of safety, justice; and truth; a place of trust; inclusion, and love; a place of joy, happiness, and well-being.

The risen Jesus’ very presence offers them that wonderful peace despite his disciples’ betrayal’ denial, guilt, and dispersal.

Forgiveness too was given to the disciples: The attitude of Jesus reflects God’s forgiveness. God is the forgiver of sin, not simply because God has infinite power, but because God is also the horizon of’ infinite love. God’s love is such that any sin can be overcome. That great love began when God created the universe and the creatures within. It was that love that was evident in the Incarnation and in the suffering, and death of Jesus. That love is the power of the Resurrection and of the great reconciliation toward which the whole of creation is moving. Cod’s constant proffering of love is at once the offer of forgiveness and the opportunity to renew a broken union or to deepen that union. Finally, Jesus chose to be remembered by eating and , drinking, together: thus the tradition of giving thanks, breaking bread, and sharing the cup we call the Eucharist. It is the central symbol by which we remember Jesus in the Sacramental traditions of Christianity.

The Eucharist (Bread of Life) is celebrated as, a foretaste of a reconciled creation, where sins have been forgiven and all feel included. Peace, forgiveness, and food come together.

***

– Fr. Jesus M. Malit, SSS
– (May 15, 2018)
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