We are all familiar with the story of the Easter resurrection.
He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ Behold, I have told you.” Then they went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce this to his disciples. Matthew 8:6-9
Mary Magdalene brought the shocking news to the apostles that the grave was empty and the Lord had risen. When Mary Magdalene and the other women heard the news from the angel “. . . they went away fearful yet overjoyed … ” only to be met with skepticism and disbelief from the apostles when telling them about the angel and the empty tomb.
Can you imagine what the apostles were thinking after Mary’s amazing news? Their heads must have been whirling with so many thoughts. “What just happened? Is this the truth? How does my life change based on knowing he is risen? What do I do now?”
Jesus appeared to two disciples on the road to Emmaus and they only recognized him in the breaking of the bread, and their hearts were burning for joy (Luke 24:32). Similarly, in chapter 21 of John’s Gospel (John 21:1-14), we hear that Simon Peter and others had returned to the Sea of Tiberius in Galilee and taken up their former lives as fisherman. When they met Jesus on the shore, they recognized him in the breaking of the bread.
The various feelings expressed in each of the Easter stories above—from fear to joy to skepticism to disbelief to recognizing Jesus in the breaking of the bread—can also be part of our faith journey.
Sometimes we fear what God wants us to do, and how much he is asking of us. We often find great joy in our belief. Skepticism can occur when someone challenges us about what we believe and disbelief can haunt us at those times when our faith is not strong. At other items we are overwhelmed by the miracle that occurs at each Mass in the breaking of the bread.
In each Mass, we have the opportunity to share the disciples’ experience of meeting the resurrected Christ and recognizing him in the miracle of the Eucharist. The words of the Memorial Acclamation express the disciples’ experience of the resurrection. When the priest says: “Let us proclaim the mystery of faith,” our response proclaims these great tenants of our faith:
A – “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.”
B – “Dying you destroyed our death, rising you restored our life. Lord Jesus, come in glory.”
C – “When we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim your death, Lord Jesus, until you come in glory.”
D – “Lord, by your cross and resurrection, you have set us free. You are the Savior of the World.”
Through the Eucharist, we are all invited to be transformed and conformed to the Image of God. We have to be willing to be crushed – dying to ourself and giving ourself to others. This means we must be willing to sacrifice and suffer for the good of others.
Just as the bread and wine are transformed into the body and blood of Christ, so too are we transformed if we have placed a part of ourselves, (family, job, finances, worries and gratitude) in place of the bread and wine that are being transformed.
The Eucharist enables us to be part of the body of Christ, it allows us to be transformed and to be nourished by God so that we, in turn, can nourish those in need. By participating in the Eucharist, we commit ourselves to sacrifice for others just like Jesus did.
Assembling to celebrate Eucharist allows God to transform the bread and wine and us into the Body of Christ. By assembling, we acknowledge the truth of nourishing the hungry and thirsty, caring for the sick and imprisoned and all those in need.
Through the Eucharist we can mystically enter into the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, enabling us to accept His saving grace in the life long process we call Salvation. Jesus’ body and blood are present in the bread and the wine that are consecrated during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Jesus is present in the Christian community gathered to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. He is present in the priest, in the proclamation of the Word, and in everyone assembled for the celebration of the Mass.
Transformation should occur at each Mass we attend. The next time you respond when the priest asks us to “proclaim the mystery of faith,” ask yourself the same question the apostles may have asked themselves: “What just happened? Is this the truth? How does my life change based on knowing he is risen? What do I do now?”
The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” Matthew 8:16-20
Just like the apostles, Jesus us calling each one of us to “make disciples of all nations” through the saving grace of his life, death and resurrection.