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Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus enlightens the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Have you ever tried to solve a puzzle and then were surprised when the various pieces suddenly fell into place? Well, this is what happens to these disciples as Jesus begins to speak: “How slow of heart [you are] to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” The whole of Christianity is hanging here in the balance.

The disciples didn’t get it at first. They didn’t get the secret, the mystery, the key, the pattern. And what was that? God’s self-emptying love, even unto death. God’s act of taking upon himself the sins of the world in order to take them away, the mystery of redemption through suffering.

Jesus explains this first by reference to the prophets; but then, he makes it as vividly present to them as he can: “He took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them.” And that’s when the pieces fell into place—that’s when the puzzle was solved. The Eucharist made present this love unto death, this love that is more powerful than sin and death. The Eucharist is the key.