THE EUCHARIST, A MYSTERY OF LIGHT
“He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Lk 24:27)
11. The account of the Risen Jesus appearing to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus helps us to focus on a primary aspect of the Eucharistic mystery, one which should always be present in the devotion of the People of God: The Eucharist is a mystery of light! What does this mean, and what are its implications for Christian life and spirituality?
Jesus described himself as the “light of the world” (Jn 8:12), and this quality clearly appears at those moments in his life, like the Transfiguration and the Resurrection, in which his divine glory shines forth brightly. Yet in the Eucharist the glory of Christ remains veiled. The Eucharist is pre-eminently a mysterium fidei. Through the mystery of his complete hiddenness, Christ becomes a mystery of light, thanks to which believers are led into the depths of the divine life. By a happy intuition, Rublëv's celebrated icon of the Trinity clearly places the Eucharist at the centre of the life of the Trinity.
12. The Eucharist is light above all because at every Mass the liturgy of the Word of God precedes the liturgy of the Eucharist in the unity of the two “tables”, the table of the Word and the table of the Bread. This continuity is expressed in the Eucharistic discourse of Saint John's Gospel, where Jesus begins his teaching by speaking of the mystery of his person and then goes on to draw out its Eucharistic dimension: “My flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed” (Jn 6:55). We know that this was troubling for most of his listeners, which led Peter to express the faith of the other Apostles and of the Church throughout history: “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life” (Jn 6:68). In the account of the disciples on the road to Emmaus, Christ himself intervenes to show, “beginning with Moses and all the prophets”, how “all the Scriptures” point to the mystery of his person (cf. Lk 24:27). His words make the hearts of the disciples “burn” within them, drawing them out of the darkness of sorrow and despair, and awakening in them a desire to remain with him: “Stay with us, Lord” (cf. v. 29).
13. The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council, in the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, sought to make “the table of the word” offer the treasures of Scripture more fully to the faithful.(9) Consequently they allowed the biblical readings of the liturgy to be proclaimed in a language understood by all. It is Christ himself who speaks when the Holy Scriptures are read in the Church.(10) The Council Fathers also urged the celebrant to treat the homily as part of the liturgy, aimed at explaining the word of God and drawing out its meaning for the Christian life.(11) Forty years after the Council, the Year of the Eucharist can serve as an important opportunity for Christian communities to evaluate their progress in this area. It is not enough that the biblical passages are read in the vernacular, if they are not also proclaimed with the care, preparation, devout attention and meditative silence that enable the word of God to touch people's minds and hearts.