Today St. Luke’s account of the Good News proclaims recognition of the risen Jesus in “the breaking of the bread.” The significance is in the centrality of Jesus’ action of blessing, breaking and sharing after his resurrection—the very action he commanded – “Do this in memory of me” – the night before he died.
Some of the extra-biblical gospels, not accepted into the Christian New Testament as we know it, were part of the “Gnostic” movement which claimed that Jesus was important for “who he was” and “how he was,” rather than for what he did, or the actions he performed. Of course Jesus was indeed important for the manner in which he was and is God for us, but this cannot be separated out from what he did for us, particularly his “breaking of the bread,” which became the perpetuation for us of the price he paid on the cross! St Iranaeus recognized this fact and more when, in the 3rd century A.D., he refuted Gnostic beliefs, and pretty much solidified the adoption of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John as the reliable gospels to provide Christians everywhere with what was to be understood as the whole “Christ Event.”
What does this have to do with you and me today? Everything. After all, you and I live by those four gospels.
First of all regarding the Gnostic way of thinking, consider this: Would you and I take a president or pope and sum him up solely based on “who he is” and “how he is”? Would we not feel compelled to also report on their history of actions taken and decisions made? I can tell you a lot about who and how my parents were, but you will know a lot more about them (about my family, and about me for that matter), if I tell you that my Dad joined the Navy after four kids and before the fifth was born; and that my Mother worked as an accountant, a practical nurse, and as a catechist during her lifetime. When all is said and done, the character and charisms of a person, with actions and decisions all taken together, wind up shaping a son or a daughter, a student or an apprentice.
Just so, Iranaeus knew that the true gospels had to be those that recorded and reported about Jesus in a full and consistent manner, and which best explained the emergence of his Church. But it follows that we who are now that Church in Christ must also realize the importance of not only who and how we are, but also of what we do and the decisions we make. Parents who are with your children at Mass today and who try to live by what is taught and experienced here, be happy and feel good about the complete and consistent model and message you are giving to your children—you are providing them the “risen life” of the gospel! May we all desire to do the same for each other. May we always desire to live a whole-gospel life.