Recently I read a story about a man who visited a church and was quite impressed by the artwork. There were a series of beautiful stained-glass windows, and he came across what he thought were an unfinished version of the Emmaus story. The window presented Jesus at table with the two disciples holding bread in his hands.
The window was beautifully designed and colored — a real work of art. However, Jesus’ face and hands looked unfinished; rather than being beautifully designed and colored they were simply the type of glass that one might see on a lightbox used to illuminate X-ray films. He thought how odd it was that they had put this “unfinished” window in the chapel among all these other impressive works.
After a few moments, though, it dawned on him that the window artfully portrayed the real story of Jesus’ encounter with those early disciples; they and countless disciples throughout the ages thereafter would look upon Jesus not in his physical, earthly body, but rather would know him in the breaking of the bread. The physical presence of Jesus, as depicted in the window, had faded from the scene, while he would remain ever present among his people in the Eucharist.
The Emmaus story portrays the three essential elements of living a spiritual life within the context of the Church
- Coming together
- We Come together at Mass
- We Come together at the creed, professing One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Faith
- We Come together in service
- For To know him is to love him. We come to know Him in the Scriptures
- “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ”, as Saint Jerome said
- Breaking of the Bread
- Notice its “breaking” rather than sharing of the bread
- Through the cross comes resurrection
The Emmaus story portrays the three essential elements of living a spiritual life within the Church. I wonder if the stained glass windows the author wrote about, portrays our participation in these three elements. For by our coming together, allowing our hearts to burn within us in the reading of the scriptures, and in recognizing Christ in the breaking of the bread, perhaps we become what St. Teresa of Avila wrote:
Christ has no body but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours, Yours are the eyes with which he looks Compassion on this world, Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good, Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, Yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours, Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.