When God Shows Himself

When I first started going to Bible study, probably around 2008, I literally knew nothing about the Scriptures, God’s love letter to me.  Okay, maybe not “nothing”.  I knew that there were four Gospels and could name them; I knew there’s an Old and a New Testament; and I could name the five books of the Pentateuch, but that’s about it.  I knew nothing about how God reveals Himself through them.  The Liturgy of the Word was the part of Mass that I had to “get through” to get to the good stuff: the Eucharist.  

Let’s back up for a minute and look at those ways that God has revealed Himself.  I’ve toyed with the idea for years of writing a book of reflections called “3:15-ish” because it struck me one day that it is there, chapter 3, somewhere around verse 15, in several books of the Bible that we get glimpses of who God is.  Most everyone knows John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”  Here God reveals to us the depths of His love for us, enough to offer us His Son for our benefit, so that we might have eternal life with Him.  That line alone is stunning, which is why it’s so popular, but wait, there’s more!

Go all the way to the beginning: Genesis 3:15 contains what has been considered the first promise of a savior, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; They will strike at your head, while you strike at their heel.”  This little scene takes place right after Adam and Eve have committed the Original Sin, and immediately God reveals His merciful heart and that He has a plan.

We only need to travel into the very next book, Exodus, to again learn something new about our God when He reveals His name to Moses, a name that tells us so much more than a simple identifier like, “hey, call me Joe.”  No, our God shares with us, through Moses, His timelessness and vastness as revealed when He answers Moses request for His name by saying, “I am who I am. Then he added: This is what you will tell the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.”  (Ex 3:14)  The God of the universe shares His name with us; He reveals through that name that He always has been and always will be.  He is timeless.

Obviously we can’t go through every book of Scripture here to find all of the ways that God reveals Himself to us there, but just in the little bit that we’ve seen so far we know that He is merciful and timeless, and that He loves us.  Today’s First Reading also tells us a little something about our God.  In Acts 3 we hear Peter say, “God has thus brought to fulfillment

what he had announced beforehand through the mouth of all the prophets,” (v18), so we see that our God is a God who keeps His promises, too.  What’s His promise to us?  He’s made several, but at the end of Matthew’s Gospel (no it’s not in chapter 3, sorry) we hear that Jesus promises to be with us always.  

Today’s Gospel begins with this line, “The two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way, and how Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of bread.” (Lk 24:35).  He made Himself known, He revealed Himself, in the breaking of the bread.  In fact, He took, blessed, broke, and gave that bread to those two disciples and then, when they recognized Him, He disappeared!  (Lk 24:30-31)  Even though He vanished from their sight, He has continued to keep His promise to be with us always: in the breaking of the bread, aka: the Eucharist!  

I know that you already know that the Eucharist is Jesus – really and truly, not a symbol, but Him, all of Him: Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.  I’m not telling you anything new.  And yet, during this Easter season, as we’ve just recently welcomed new brothers and sisters into our Church family and shared the Eucharist with them for the first time, and as we begin to see more and more of our young people receiving the Eucharist for their first time, it seems like a fitting time to stop and reflect on our own reception of Communion.  “Do I recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread?  Do I accept that He is keeping His promise to me still?  Do I see and hear all of the ways that God reveals His loving, merciful heart to me?”  I invite you to gaze a little longer at the Eucharist, to spend a few more seconds in silent thanksgiving after receiving Him, and just to be a little more open to what God wants to give you through His Son.  The Father reveals Himself to us in the Scriptures over and over again, and the Son gives Himself to us in the Eucharist over and over again, all through the Holy Spirit, and that’s what makes the whole Mass the good stuff!