Thoughts from the Early Church

Commentary by a Twelfth Century Author

They recognized Jesus at the breaking of the bread.

“Their eyes were opened, and they knew him when he broke the bread.” When bread is broken, it is in a way diminished, or “emptied.”

By breaking understand the virtue of humility, by which Christ—even he who is the bread of life— broke, diminished, and emptied himself. And by emptying himself he gave us knowledge of himself.

The hidden Wisdom of the Father, and a treasure whole and concealed—what use are they?

Break your bread for the hungry, Lord, the bread that is yourself, so that human eyes may be opened, and it may not be regarded as a sin for us to long to be like you, knowing good and evil.

Let him who from the beginning wished to strive after or grope for you in your undiminished state, know you through the breaking of bread.

Break yourself that we may learn to break our own selves, for you are not known through the breaking of bread. Balaam heard the words of God and saw visions of the Almighty, but he fell with open eyes because he did not know the Lord through the breaking of bread

It is the same today: you see many studying the Scriptures, teaching in cathedrals, preaching in churches, but their works do not agree with their words. With words they claim to have a knowledge of God, but with their deeds they deny it, because God cannot be known except through the breaking of bread.

Break yourself, then, by the labor of obedience, by the humiliation of repentance. Bear in your body the marks of Jesus Christ by accepting the condition of a servant, not of a superior. And when you have emptied yourself, you will know the Lord through the breaking of bread.

True humility opens our eyes, “breaking” and diminishing the other virtues which might blind us with a spirit of pride, and teaching us that of ourselves we are nothing. And when we humble ourselves by self-contempt, so much the more do we grow in the knowledge of God.


(Sermon for Easter Monday: PL 184, 978-97)

 

**From Saint Louis University

Kristin Clauson