by Marylou Garrett, Notre Dame Associate
My husband and I belong to a group of seven couples who gather monthly in our homes to share a meal, our faith and our lives. At our last meeting, three of the couples were unable to attend. After reflecting on Thomas' absence when the Risen Christ first appeared to the other apostles in John 21, we discussed how much we also miss when we or our friends aren't present when we gather. We recognized that we needed each other to help keep us and our marriages anchored in Christ.
In this Sunday's gospel we see another example of the importance of community. Two travelers on the road to Emmaus are joined by a stranger who admonishes them for losing faith and hope in their crucified teacher. Their hearts burn within them as he explains Scripture passages that refer to what the prophets foretold about the Messiah. But it isn't until they invite him to their lodgings for the evening and share a meal with him that they recognize who their guest truly is: "He took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened."
Jesus, just days before at the Last Supper, had given himself completely to the apostles under the appearance of bread and wine, but he had also given them completely to each other: "Love one another. As I have loved you, you should also love one another. This is how all will know you are my disciples." (Jn 13:34-35). It was the Bread of Life, shared with each other, that compelled two tired travelers to return to the faith community in Jerusalem with their good news that very same evening!
We too are called to be bread - broken and blessed to share Christ's loving presence with each other and the world. Carey Landry's song "Companions on the Journey" expresses this beautifully:
We are companions on the journey,
breaking bread and sharing life;
and the love we bear is the hope we share,
for we believe in the love of our God,
we believe in the love of our God!