As we continue our journey through the Easter season the Gospels tell us of a different type of masking. We see our Lord Jesus not instantly recognised by those who knew Him before his death on the Cross. We hear of the identity of Jesus being “masked” in such a way that He was not instantly recognisable. A good example that we heard recently was the Risen Lord walking on the road to Emmaus with two companions who did not recognise Him (Luke 24: 13-35). The reason was He now lives in a glorified state in virtue of his Resurrection. The Risen Lord is no longer bound by time or space, a condition unknown and hence unrecognisable to those who remain so constrained.
Dear friends, this does not mean, however, that Our Lord Jesus does not want to be recognised. On the contrary, He makes His presence known in a beautiful and powerful way. Those two companions, hearts broken at what they saw unfold back in Jerusalem their experience; a wonderful and sacred moment. These two men recognised Him in the Breaking of Bread, The presence of Jesus, the Risen Lord, will henceforth “masked” under signs, visible and recognisable only to the eyes of faith.
We are blessed to know and see these signs. From that same Gospel passage, and from others in Sacred Scripture, we know that He is wondrously and substantially present under the signs of bread and wine in the “breaking of bread” otherwise known as the sacrament of the Eucharist – HOLY MASS. In these tough days when physical presence at the Holy Mass is not possible, with so many ready and willing to offer up their Eucharistic hunger to save others, it is a powerful witness to their Catholic faith. So, it is good to recall other ways in which the Lord is really present in sign.
You are blessed if you know and appreciate that He is present in His Sacred Word. Jesus is the Word of God Incarnate. Reading the Holy Bible then, is not leafing through lifeless pages, but an encounter with the Living God. Can you find time to meet Jesus in His Word by reading (and meditating on) Sacred Scripture?
Matthew18:20 also reminds us that He is present whenever two or three are gathered in His name. Those sacred encounters when we meet the Risen Lord in our midst are rich in blessings.
Matthew’s Gospel quickly reminds us that Jesus is also to be met in persons who are poor, marginalised or in any way needy (Matthew 25:31-46). Cafod and many others are begging us not to forget them. So, in these challenging times for all nations, how do we try, with the realm of what is possible, to feed the hungry, visit the sick, reach out to the lonely? These are privileged and blessed encounters with the Risen Lord.
When this crisis is over, when the pandemic is over, we shall leave behind the habit of masking ourselves. The abiding presence of Our Lord will, however, remain veiled. Let’s develop – and keep – the habit of recognising and encountering Him where He is found.