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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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The robot dog that will murder you will also dance on your grave

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To cleanse the palate, obviously I don’t know if there’ll be “graves” as such after the robot apocalypse. I assume it’ll depend on their olfactory capabilities. If they’re not equipped to detect scent, maybe the ‘bots will just leave us where we lie to decay in the sun, our streets transformed into rivers of putrefied viscera from the sheer mass of leaking carcasses.

It’s my great privilege to share thoughts like that with you at the end of a long day.

I’m curious about what possessed Boston Dynamics to put this clip together. Could be nothing more than boredom or a creative way to show off Spot’s motor skills. But I wonder if all the freaky-deaky videos of humanoid robots demonstrating ever more impressive feats of mobility has created a strange sort of PR problem for them. They don’t want every promo they do to seem menacing, however inadvertently. Soon they’ll have people breaking into their factory, trying to stop them before they build the first T-800. Time to do something whimsical instead.

This thing is set to go on sale next year, by the way. Not to everyday consumers; the price tag will likely ensure that it remains a corporate plaything. But you’ll be seeing them around sooner than you think. Plus, some ultra-rich tech bros are destined to buy them and show them off as look-what-I-got novelties. We all know who the first one will be.

Weird but true: In a few decades’ time, this thing shaking its ass in your face as it does a victory twerk might be the last thing you ever see.

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WOW! Claire McCaskill Speaks Out After Project Veritas Reveals She’s a Complete Fraud — Lies and Blames Hawley (VIDEO)

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James O’Keefe strikes again!

On Monday evening, Project Veritas released an undercover video of endangered Missouri Democrat Senator Claire McCaskill admitting to being deceptive about her stance on firearms and immigration policies.

McCaskill is a red-state Democrat Senator so she has to appear pro 2nd Amendment to her constituents because Missourians love their guns.

Claire McCaskill’s staffers were also caught on video saying she puts on a moderate front to get the Republican votes.

The top staffer then continued saying McCaskill believes everything Obama does.

THIS WAS A DEVASTATING VIDEO! Claire McCaskill was COMPLETELY EXPOSED!

Senator McCaskill’s staffers admitted she is pro-DACA, pro-DREAMERS and against the border wall even though she runs ads to the contrary claiming she is strong on border security.
The Project Veritas Video has been viewed over 267,000 times so far!

On Tuesday morning Claire McCaskill responded to the stunning revelations.
McCaskill went on Ozarks First to try to dig herself out of this deep hole.


Claire lied some more, blamed Josh Hawley for the undercover video.

Senator McCaskill: I’ve been very up front about all my positions. I remember this person was trying to get me to say something different than what my positions are… It is startling that Josh Hawley would be part of fraudulently embedding something in my campaign.

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Coincidence or corruption? In Andrew Cuomo’s government it’s hard to tell

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Given the parade of people in the orbit of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo who have recently either been shipped off to jail or come under investigation, it’s amazing that none of the dirt ever sticks to Cuomo himself. How does he account for the various people who funneled money toward his campaign, and then were later discovered to have benefitted from state government “generosity” and wound up in handcuffs? It’s all just a coincidence.

Today we’re hearing news of yet another of these amazing coincidences. This story starts with a situation we first covered more than a year ago and it dealt with some donors who helped Cuomo out during his 2014 campaign. A medical corporation named Crystal Run Healthcare was run by a few people who had funneled more than $400K to Cuomo’s campaigns over the previous four years. When the “Buffalo Billion” was announced (a plan to invest a billion dollars of taxpayer money into projects creating jobs in the western, upstate region) Crytal Run was at the front of the line. They wound up receiving more than $25M dollars for two new medical centers.

But there were some fishy elements to the story. First of all, they had actually broken ground on both of those new projects six months before the grants were even announced or applications were being taken. It’s almost as if they knew they had the money coming from somewhere. Then we found out that the Crystal Run had coughed up a flurry of maximum donations only weeks before the checks to them were cut. In addition to that, there was a meeting held less than two weeks after the announcement of the grants where Crystal Run executives met with state officials, including a top aide from inside Cuomo’s office.

How did Cuomo explain it? It was all just a happy coincidence and the meeting didn’t matter because they didn’t even talk about the grants. The meeting was about Medicaid.

But now the local press has gotten hold of emails from Crystal Run showing that they did indeed discuss their two new developments and the grants, and that the state representatives at the meeting were “very receptive” to their requests. (NY Post)

Now, despite earlier denials from everyone involved, it turns out company execs got a private sitdown with top state officials in 2015, just 12 days after Albany started seeking applications for $1.2 billion in development grants. Crystal Run wound up with $25.4 million of that (the only for-profit company to qualify) for two projects.

Team Cuomo insists those projects never even got mentioned at the meeting, saying it was only about Medicaid. Yet the Albany Times Union reports that an e-mail sent two weeks later by Crystal Run’s chief legal officer stressed that company execs had “shared our vision for growth,” including the two “expansions,” with the health commissioner and a top aide who worked in Cuomo’s office.

Both officials, the e-mail noted, “were, obviously, supportive, as we are bringing real jobs to real people” — and had agreed that “further discussion was warranted” with the state economic-development agency “at the highest levels.”

How much more evidence do we need at this point? Cuomo’s spokespeople obviously lied about what went on at that meeting. They have records from the company who benefitted from it after making massive contributions. (Two of the people involved in organizing these meetings, donations, and windfalls have already been convicted or indicted on related charges.) And yet Andrew Cuomo continues to insist that all the grants were handled fairly and above board. These are all just amazing coincidences. And somehow, while his closest aides head off to the crowbar motel, Cuomo floats along and prosecutors can’t seem to lay a glove on him. On top of that, he’s on track to cruise to electoral victory for another four years in office.

I guess that’s just a happy coincidence too, eh?

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