Jesus makes Himself known to us in the breaking of the bread
St. Ephrem the Syrian, Hymns on Paradise, 15.4, 4th c. AD
Even when the army surrounded Elisha
a voice proved the key to the eyes of the shepherd (II Kings, 6:17).
When the disciples' eyes were held closed,
bread too was the key whereby their eyes were opened
to recognize the omniscient:
saddened eyes beheld a vision of joy
and were instantly filled with happiness.
St. Augustine, early 5th c.
Remember, though, dearly beloved, how the Lord Jesus desired to be recognized in the breaking of bread, by those whose eyes had been kept till then from recognizing him. The faithful know what I'm talking about. They know Christ in the breaking of bread. It isn't every loaf of bread, you see, but the one that receives Christ's blessing and becomes the body of Christ. That's where they recognized him. They were overjoyed and went straight to the others. They found whom they already knew. By telling what they had seen, they added to the gospel. It was all said, all done, all written down. And it has reached us.
"We", they said, "had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel." O my dear disciples, you had hoped! So now you no longer hope? Look, Christ is alive! Is hope dead in you? Certainly, certainly, Christ is alive! Christ, being alive, found the hearts of his disciples dead, as he appeared and did not appear to their eyes. He was at one and the same time seen and concealed. I mean, if he wasn't seen, how could they have heard him questioning them and answered his questions? He was walking with them along the road like a companion and was himself the leader. Of course he was seen, but he wasn't recognized. For their eyes were restrained, as we heard, so that they wouldn't recognize him. They weren't restrained so that they wouldn't see him, but they were held so that they wouldn't recognize him. Ah yes, brothers and sisters, but where did the Lord wish to be recognized? In the breaking of bread. We're all right, nothing to worry about: we break bread, and we recognize the Lord. It was for our sake that he didn't want to be recognized anywhere but there, because we weren't going to see him in the flesh, and yet we were going to eat his flesh. So if you're a believer, any of you if you're not called a Christian for nothing, if you don't come to church pointlessly, if you listen to the Word of God in fear and hope, you may take comfort in the breaking of bread. The Lord's absence is not an absence. Have faith, and the one you cannot see is with you. Those two, even when the Lord was talking to them, did not have faith, because they didn't believe he had risen. Nor did they have any hope that he could rise again. They had lost faith, lost hope. They were walking along, dead, with Christ alive. They were walking along, dead, with life itself. Life was walking along with them, but in their hearts life had not yet been restored.
St. Symeon the New Theologian, Hymns, 26, 46-55, early 11th century
Just like then, when the doors being closed, you came in and went out, and you became invisible to your disciples at the breaking of bread, so now you transform this bread into your spiritual body. And I think that I possess you, whether you like it or not, and since I communicate to your flesh, I think also that I understand you and I am like a saint, O Christ, a heir of God, joint heir with you, your brother, participant of your eternal glory.
St. Nerses Shnorhali, Jesus the Only Son of the Father, part 2, 775-777, 12th century
Me too make me
know the Unutterable:
And let my heart burn in me
St. John Paul II, Apostolic Letter “Mane nobiscum Domine” (2004), Introduction, 1-2
“Stay with us, Lord, for it is almost evening” (cf. Lk 24:29). This was the insistent invitation that the two disciples journeying to Emmaus on the evening of the day of the resurrection addressed to the Wayfarer who had accompanied them on their journey... Amid the shadows of the passing day and the darkness that clouded their spirit, the Wayfarer brought a ray of light which rekindled their hope and led their hearts to yearn for the fullness of light. “Stay with us”, they pleaded. And he agreed. Soon afterwards, Jesus' face would disappear, yet the Master would “stay” with them, hidden in the “breaking of the bread” which had opened their eyes to recognize him. ... Amid our questions and difficulties, and even our bitter disappointments, the divine Wayfarer continues to walk at our side, opening to us the Scriptures and leading us to a deeper understanding of the mysteries of God. When we meet him fully, we will pass from the light of the Word to the light streaming from the “Bread of life”, the supreme fulfillment of his promise to “be with us always, to the end of the age” (cf. Mt 28:20).