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Myanmar Catholic Church
Untitled Document

Jesus – The Accompanier who breaks the Word

and breaks the Bread in our streets.

Reflections on  Third Sunday of Easter

By Cardinal Charles Maung Bo., Archbishop of Yangon, Myanmar

Jesus – The Accompanier who breaks the Word

and breaks the Bread in our streets.

Reflections on  Third Sunday of Easter

By Cardinal Charles Maung Bo., Archbishop of Yangon, Myanmar



            We start today with renewed and vigorous prayers for the wounded  world to heal.   Prayer can bring wonders and we redouble our prayers.  We continue prayers to families and countries affected by this pandemic.  We are grateful the ferocity of this pandemic is gradually reduced.  God is great.

            We remember with gratitude the generosity and moving commitment of  healthcare frontline workers.   Today their hands are the healing hands of Jesus, their eyes  are the compassionate eyes of Jesus.    For many who died during this COVID pandemic, their last human touch might not be from their near and dear ones but  the touch of  generous  health workers.  Many died at the  hands of these great men and women.  May they be praised and they need our empathy, support and more than anything – our prayers for their families.


            As the Paschal season sails through  the dark clouds and the stormy seas of the pandemic, Church through the sage wisdom of our Holy Father continue to guide us through nourishing  spiritual gifts.    Holy Father Francis continues to pray and encourage the church to see the light at the end of the tunnel through faith.


            Today’s Gospel takes us to one of the most moving and beautiful scenes in the Bible.  Jesus accompanying the discouraged  disciples on the way to Emmaus.  The disciples, Cleopas and his unnamed companion’s  faith was shattered. They believed in the great promise of Messiah but he was killed on the Cross.  That morning some women have brought some strange news.   They were on a journey, totally confused, their faith challenged and their hearts in the lowest spirits.   They could not recognize Jesus.  In their dispirited journey they could not recognize the Lord.


            Lock down can wear us down.  Lock down can wear down the faith.  After Jesus death on a cross there was a lock down of faith among the disciples.  The two on the way to Emmaus were escaping that lock down.   God seemed to have abandoned them.


            Bible talks of two other lockdown where faith was acutely tested.  The Babylonian exile of the  Jews was a lockdown.  They were slaves in Egypt.  As  a chosen race they felt they were abandoned.   But God did not forget them.  He sent Moses – because God is a God ‘ hears the cry of the suffering people.”     He redeems them.     But another lock down, for forty years in the desert continues.  Despite all the great miracles of God  the Israelites  rebelled and went to worship false Gods.  How fast they lost their hope and faith!    But God was faithful.     Faith is a hard journey and only those who are unwavering will be rewarded. 


            Jesus himself was in a lock down for forty days and forty nights.  The Bible speaks of his days without proper food in the desert.  And he was   tested.  The devil was there - to test even the Lord and Master Jesus Christ in faith.  He tested him to abandon true God and take up to false God.   During the time of the desert when everything looked totally despair, the devil strikes.  If  lockdowns and desert life can be a great challenge even to our Lord and Master,  the era of Pandemic is a huge challenge to God’s faithful.   The evil is looking for our soul.  Lost of faith is the spiritual COVID waiting to wipe out our dignity as sons and daughters created in his image.


            Millions are in the same context.   They are confused, discouraged and asking this nagging question :  Where is God  in this COVID -19  menace?  Has he abandoned us? Many are on the road to hopeless Emmaus.   Jesus accompanies us – often he is not recognized.  Anger and anxiety hides our eyes.   It takes long time to recognize Jesus as our accompanier in our life’s trials and tribulations and even during these dark days of engulfing  sorrow of COVID.


            Where is God?   St Augustine asked this question. St Augustine, after a life of indulgence  and sin, took his road to Emmaus, he realized God never abandoned him.   He made of  the most powerful statement of  accompaniment of God.   He said “ God is closer to us, than we are to ourselves.”    What a consoling thought!  This closeness of God  to each one of us is beautifully captured in  Psalm 139 : 


            If I take the wings of dawn

            and dwell beyond the sea,

            Even there your hand guides me,

            your right hand holds me fast.

            You formed my inmost being;

            you knit me in my mother’s womb.

            I praise you, because I am wonderfully made;

            wonderful are your works!

By contrast, God sees us when we do not see him. He knows us when we do not acknowledge him. 




Bible further takes us deep in to the concept of Immanuel “God with us” (Is 7:14; Mt 2:23).  God never abandons us – especially when there are dark nights of soul.


            Jesus accompanies not only to console us.  He challenges us.  Jesus challenges the faith of two disciples.  He breaks the Word with them – reminds them of the Scripture where it was written the Son of Man was to die on the Cross and raised on the third day.   


            Today many of us are challenged in our faith.   Job stood all suffering and loss with a stoic faith.  “ God gave and God takes it away”.   Despite  all tribulations and trials  Job’s faith was rock solid because he knew that his belief is on a living God.  Many of us are challenged by the power of virus.  Virus shakes our faith.  A pandemic is a slippery rock of our faith.    As Jesus  enlightened those disciples of despair, that faith comes not only  comfortable days but even through stormy seas of hopelessness.


            One of the saddest consequence of the COVID is Churches are closed. Eucharist, the Source  and Summit of our spiritual energy is absent from the lives  of thousands.  As we read today’s Gospel we find some consolation.  After his journey, Jesus breaks bread with the Disciples  - this time not on a prepared place as he did on the Last supper.   But on the street.- Street was the altar for breaking the Word and breaking the Bread.  


            His journey with the disciples was really a Eucharistic celebration.  He broke the Word with them by explaining the Scriptures and ultimately  broke the Bread.  Today when churches were sadly closed, the altar moves to the street, to every home, every human heart.    Jesus himself celebrated his first Mass on the last day of his earthly life.  But all through his active ministry, he broke the bread of healing, the bread of Good news, the bread of reconciliation, bread of life – not on the altar, not on any buildings, but on the streets.  People need not come in search of Jesus. Jesus comes in search of us in our road to Emmaus.


            Today we are all like the Disciples on the Road to Emmaus.  Our journey today starts with darkness of gloom and walk in the slippery rock.   But Jesus urges to break the Word in our houses, in our hearts and became aware God is ‘closer to us than we are to ourselves’.   

            Always let us remember : Early Christianity worshipped together, broke bread together, proclaimed together – all without the support of big organization or even building.  Because the Spirit was on them – “ Gold and Silver I had none – receive what I have.”  Peter said in the total faith in God. 


This is the time of each family becoming a mini church.  Let the parents break the Word with the children. Let our families plunge themselves to the study of the Word of God and faith sharing among  one another.   Let compassion and mercy become the bread  we break when we accompany people affected by the COVID and suffering millions of poor. 


            The journey of Emmaus started for the disciples with total strangling despair but end with the exhilarating joy   “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"


            Let that be our journey.   COVID cannot kill  our faith in a living, loving and liberating God.  He called each one of us from our mother’s womb.   He is a God who rewards a faith of mustard seed with power to move mountains.   


            Let us pray with the Disciples of Emmaus  in these times of  darkness


            “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.”

2020-04-25 04:52:01