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Breaking the bread: Sunday reflection

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This morning’s Gospel reading is Luke 24:35–48:

The two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way, and how Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of bread.

While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them.

He said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”

Among my favorite ways to spend time with people is in sharing a meal with them. Perhaps it’s the Italian in me, or maybe it’s a product of growing up where family meals and feasts were the main opportunities to get together with the people we love. My best memories are of sausages on the grill, sunny days where we ran around and played games whose rules we barely understood or even cared about, and in general lost ourselves in the moment. And hey, it was even more fun when I was a kid.

To this day, I’m overly fond of table conversation among larger groups of people, and find meals on my own to be wasted motion, for the most part. Except for the food itself, of course, which I enjoy all too much at times, it seems like a lost opportunity that leaves me at loose ends. The human connection over one of our most basic needs offers us a chance to look beyond ourselves and embrace both the connectedness and the distinctions of those around us.

The Eucharist speaks to us in those same ways, only connecting us to Christ and the Trinitarian life as well. The two disciples on the road to Emmaus learned this in the previous episode in Luke’s Gospel, a lesson which they bring back to Jerusalem afterward. They tell the other disciples, still awaiting the Holy Spirit in the city, about the way in which Christ came to them as a companion on their journey, lifting their spirits as they walked, but without His identity becoming known to them. Only in breaking the bread with this stranger did they connect fully with Christ, and in that moment He disappeared.

When they tell the story to the other disciples, Jesus reappears in their midst, as Luke writes, but the experience is different. This time, Jesus makes sure that they understand His presence is not just an illusion or spirit only, but in the flesh as well. He offers them the same opportunity that Christ offered Thomas in John’s Gospel last week, allowing them to have both knowledge and faith in His resurrection. He then emphasizes His risen, corporeal reality by asking for normal human sustenance, sharing their meal in order to share more of Himself with the disciples.

This parallels what John writes about at the end of his Gospel. Just before ascending to heaven, Jesus meets the disciples on the shore of Galilee. Just like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, they do not recognize Jesus at first, not even when greeting him from their boat. He instructs them to cast their nets to the right side, and John realizes who the stranger is. As Peter swims ashore to greet Him, the nets become so full that they almost cannot bring in their haul. Jesus then makes them breakfast and breaks the bread Himself to feed the disciples.

In all of these passages, the joy of Christ and in being in His presence comes across strongest. The joy comes in part from our natural, human desire for communing at meals and connecting with those we love, to be sure. And what is the Mass, anyway, if not the communal meal of the entire Church? Our sacrifice provides the bread and the wine; Christ makes it holy by transubstantiating it into His body and blood, so that we all may commune with Christ. We come together in joy to celebrate Christ’s great sacrifice for us, in which our human failings get confounded despite ourselves.

Peter explains in our first reading from Acts:

You denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses.

God offered people the choice between the author of eternal life and a murderer, someone who usurped the role of the Lord for his own ends — the nature of sin itself. Failed humanity chose sin, but the Lord was wiser, and His purpose would not be thwarted. God raised Jesus from the dead, and His own humanity allowed us a path to the Trinitarian life despite ourselves. Christ returns not just in the Gospels but constantly, beckoning us to the table and into communion with Him.

This is our choice to this day, every day. We can choose to remain in sin, usurping the Lord’s authority for our own selfishness, or we can choose to come to the table as equals and accept Christ’s love, forming ourselves to His will rather than ours alone. There is a lot more joy at the table, though, especially with the family we have in the Lord.

The front page image is a detail from “Supper at Emmaus,” 1604, artist unknown. On display at the Church of Our Lady in Bruges, Belgium. Formerly attributed to Caravaggio. 

“Sunday Reflection” is a regular feature, looking at the specific readings used in today’s Mass in Catholic parishes around the world. The reflection represents only my own point of view, intended to help prepare myself for the Lord’s day and perhaps spark a meaningful discussion. Previous Sunday Reflections from the main page can be found here.  For previous Green Room entries, click here.

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You won’t have Maggie Haberman to kick around anymore (on Twitter, anyway)

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Another voice on Twitter is falling silent (at least mostly) but it has nothing to do with the recent Great Twitter Purge. New York Times columnist Maggie Haberman is throwing in the towel for the time being, while allowing the possibility that she may return after a break. The first indication of her imminent departure came, ironically enough, on Twitter.

I’m not sure how “no reason or prompt” fits into the explanation, but Haberman expanded on her decision in a column yesterday.

I woke up last Sunday morning feeling anxiety in my chest as I checked the Twitter app on my phone, scrolling down to refresh, refresh, refresh. There was a comment I started to engage with — I opened a new post, tapped out some words, then thought better of it and deleted the tweet. The same thing happened repeatedly for the next two hours.

The evening before, I had complained to a close friend that I hated being on Twitter. It was distorting discourse, I said. I couldn’t turn off the noise. She asked what was the worst that could happen if I stepped away from it.

There was nothing I could think of. And so just after 6 p.m. last Sunday, I did.

After nearly nine years and 187,000 tweets, I have used Twitter enough to know that it no longer works well for me. I will re-engage eventually, but in a different way.

Haberman goes into greater detail than simply saying it “wasn’t working for her” anymore. She describes at length the, “viciousness, toxic partisan anger, intellectual dishonesty, motive-questioning and sexism” she regularly encounters. In a sweeping bit of generalization, she describes the platform has having become, “an anger video game for many users.”

Having been a user of the system for eight years now, and not wanting to come off as too much of a jerk, all I could really think to say is, “welcome to Twitter.”

People leave Twitter all the time, some permanently and others just for a break. And yes, if you allow it to absorb your life it can definitely be an overwhelming experience. But as I said, that’s only if you let it. The fact is that Twitter is what you make of it, particularly in terms of how much time you’re willing to invest and to what purpose. Many of us (including yours truly) went through a period during their early days on the internet where our entire evening could boil away because… Oh My God… Somebody Is Wrong On The Internet.

I can remember some of my first online community interactions on the web. For a time I enjoyed participating in some USENET newsgroups. Since we’ve always kept pets I spent a brief period participating in the alt.cats community. What could go wrong in a group that enjoys talking about cats, right? Let me enlighten you. I ran into some Brit who was virulently opposed to keeping cats as indoor pets and thought they should all live outdoors. And yes, I spent weeks in a flamewar with him on that subject which sometimes kept me up until the wee hours of the morning because of the time difference between us. To this day I’m not sure which one of us came off looking more like the troll.

The point is that I eventually learned that I didn’t have to do that. Twitter is no different. If you’re getting so much hate and trolling that you’re losing your mind you can always simply shut down (or ignore) your mentions. It’s easy enough to set up groups of people you actually want to hear from. If you’re a relatively famous blue checkmark person (and Haberman definitely qualifies) you can also tone down the noise by filtering your mentions to only show verified accounts. Mute is also a wonderful feature if those other filters don’t do the trick.

But mostly it’s just a question of how compelled you feel to engage or how much weight you assign to some anonymous user who wants to call you names, impugn your reputation or otherwise haunt you. Personally, I find that my eyes are the best filter of all. After enough time walking through the maelstrom of the various social networks, you can quickly skim past the comments that aren’t going to add to the experience and simply engage with the ones who are either positive or at least offering constructive criticism.

I’m sure Maggie Haberman and I don’t see eye to eye on much but I’ve been following her on Twitter for some time. She frequently highlights and links to articles which I at least find worth my time to read and possibly even respond to here. I hope she comes back.

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Rep. Mark Meadows Calls For Carter Page FISA Docs to be Declassified, Unredacted

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On Saturday, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton announced documents related to the FISA warrants on Trump’s former campaign advisor, Carter Page were released by the FBI — and arrived at JW headquarters.

Fitton said Saturday evening Judicial Watch received the requested documents and even though they are heavily redacted, they confirm the FBI and DOJ misled the courts.

Obama’s Deep State DOJ and FBI withheld information about Hillary Clinton and the DNC being behind the information used to obtain the FISA warrant.

Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) called for the FISA docs to be declassified so “Americans can know the truth.”

Meadows tweeted: Potentially groundbreaking development here. The Carter Page FISA docs should be declassified and further unredacted (protecting only sources and methods) so Americans can know the truth.


If the previous admin was funneling campaign research toward surveillance, we need to know.

Comey, Rosenstein, McCabe and Sally Yates all signed the FISA applications even though Hillary’s fraudulent Russia dossier was used as a pretext to obtain the warrants.

Obama’s Deep State FBI and DOJ obtained a FISA warrant on Carter Page in October of 2016 and three subsequent renewals in order to spy on Trump’s campaign and transition team.

By law, the FBI must present to the FISC new, compelling information gathered from current monitoring in order to get a FISA warrant renewed every 90 days…

However, the applications filed to renew the Carter Page FISA warrants simply recycle old Christopher Steele/Yahoo information [Michael Isikoff’s Yahoo article on Carter Page] from the original application, reported Paul Sperry.

The newly released docs also reveal Peter Strzok did indeed provide information which was used to obtain a FISA warrant on Carter Page, directly contradicting his sworn claims to GOP lawmakers.

And President Trump isn’t allowed to question our intel agencies after all of this corruption??

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Nikki Haley: For peace, we need to tell the truth about Hamas

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UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, along with presidential adviser Jared Kushner, ambassador to Israel David Friedman, and assistant to the president Jason Greenblatt, published a piece today at CNN arguing that peace in Gaza will require telling the truth about Hamas. Haley recounts a recent vote in the UN when it seemed, for the first time, a majority of other nations might actually agree:

On the surface, everything about the General Assembly session on June 13 appeared to be business as usual. Algeria offered a grossly one-sided resolution blaming Israel — and Israel alone — for the recent violence in Gaza. The resolution blatantly ignored the facts.

Hamas, the terrorist group that controls Gaza, has been inciting the violence at the Israeli boundary fence for months, using Palestinian civilians as human shields. And Hamas and other terror groups have fired more than 100 rockets and sent untold numbers of flaming kites, some displaying swastikas, into Israel in the past month, hoping to kill as many Israeli civilians and destroy as much property as possible. And yet the Algerian resolution not only failed to hold Hamas terrorists accountable for their role in the violence, it failed to mention Hamas at all.

In response, the United States proposed a simple amendment to the resolution that called out Hamas for its role in the skirmishes. A minimum fealty to the truth demanded that the United Nations condemn Hamas by name for firing rockets into Israel and for allowing other terror groups to do the same…

When the amendment came to a vote, a miracle by UN standards happened. Although the measure ultimately failed for technical reasons, more nations voted for holding Hamas accountable with the US amendment than against it.

For the first time in the United Nations, more nations than not acknowledged that peace between Israel and the Palestinian people must be built on a foundation of truth regarding Hamas.

Haley goes on to say that this kind of realism will be part of any U.S. sponsored peace proposal. If you haven’t been keeping up with what is going on in Gaza, Israel unleashed a string of attacks on Hamas outposts after an Israeli soldier was killed by a sniper:

On Friday, a Palestinian sniper killed an Israeli soldier along the border — the first casualty it has sustained in four years — and Israel unleashed an offensive it says destroyed more than 60 Hamas targets, including three battalion headquarters. Four Palestinians were killed, of which three were Hamas militants.

“The attack delivered a severe blow to the Hamas’s training array, command and control abilities, weaponry, aerial defense and logistic capabilities along with additional military infrastructure,” the Israeli military said in a statement, adding that the strikes “will intensify as necessary.”…

In a brief statement early Saturday, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the movement accepted the cease-fire brokered by Egyptian and United Nations officials and that calm had been restored. Later, the Israeli military announced a return to civilian routine along the volatile border.

So, further escalation of the conflict has been avoided for now but there’s no telling how long it will last. While Hamas lacks the military strength to make significant strikes on Israel, its leaders continue to talk in terms of ethnic cleansing. It’s difficult to imagine making peace so long as these people are in control:

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