The Fall of Man and The Eucharistic Presence

Apr 22nd, 2009 | By Tom Riello | Category: Blog Posts

Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, `You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but God said, `You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons (Genesis 3:1-7)

That very day two of them were going to a village named Emma’us, about seven miles from Jerusalem,and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him… So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He appeared to be going further, but they constrained him, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight… Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread (Luke 24:13-16;28-31;35).

This past Wednesday the Gospel reading for the Liturgy was the Road to Emmaus. This wonderfully ironic story reveals that our Lord overturns the Fall of Adam and Eve.  In Genesis we learn that after both Eve and then Adam ate of the fruit their eyes were opened and they saw that they were naked, that is, their inadequacy, their failure, their fall!  They pitifully tried to overcome by sewing fig leaves to hide themselves from their shame.  In the Gospel story we learn that the travelers to Emmaus were prevented from recognizing the Lord.  In this somewhat comical episode we read of their pitiful attempt to explain to Jesus, unbeknownst to them who is right beside them, the things concerning Jesus!

Now what was it that prevented them from recognizing the Lord?  Maybe it was their sadness over what had happened.  That would be legitimate, it would seem, considering they had pinned all their hopes on Jesus redeeming Jerusalem.  They possibly were so caught up in their circumstances of despair that they could not see him though he was right there with him.  But maybe it was the Lord himself who kept them from recognizing him.  In any event, they did not recognize our Lord.  Christ then gave them a study of the Scriptures about the things concerning himself and despite this wonderful “Bible study” they still did not recognize him.  It was not until they got to table and Jesus took the bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to them that their eyes were opened and they recognized him.  And what happened to our Lord? He vanished from their sight.  They recognize him, they see him, not when he walked by their side, not when he explained the Scriptures, but when he vanishes and all that is present in bread! They recognize him as the Eucharistic Lord, they recognize him in the breaking of the bread.

What do we see in the breaking of the bread?  Do we see a symbol of him, do we role play the event, or do we, like the disciples before us recognize him in the breaking of the bread?  Can you say, when what appears to be ordinary bread, “This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Happy are those who are called to his supper.”  If not, then maybe you really do not believe He is really present.

Tags: Eucharist, Original Sin, Real Presence

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  1. Wow – very powerful and insightful. As a Cradle Reformed Guy being drawn towards the Catholic church, I sometimes wonder what it will be like if and when I receive my first communion in the Catholic church. Now you’ve got me all excited about it all over again!

    I suspect there’s also something of becoming like children again in all of this. Adam and Eve, after all, were as innocent as children prior to their sin, and it is in the simple act of being fed that we become like children again, able to see God.

    Thanks for sharing this.

  2. John,

    I can remember the anticipation and the excitement of receiving the Eucharist, words cannot do justice to the experience.

    Thanks for your comment.

  3. I love this parallel you explain. It is certainly true that Christ’s atoning work on the cross is nowhere more present and effictive on those who receive him in faith than at the moment of truly partaking of his flesh and blood under the symbols bread and wine. It is in this sacrament where we truly see what God had in mind all along in the law and prophets. It is truly amazing God has given us such a blessing in a sacrment. Amen.


  4. Great insight there. As a Catholic going on three years I sometimes think I know all of these biblical types and foreshadowing but I missed that one.

  5. Tom —

    Just to add a bit The Hebrew has a pun on naked and cunning. That is the verse also reads, “Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were cunning“. They don’t see “their inadequacy, their failure, their fall” they see themselves transformed. They now have knowledge, they have fallen from spiritual perfection. The Luke passages works in the opposite direction through Christ and the Eucharist they achieve spiritual perfection but that is only possible when the put that above their knowledge, what they can see.