There are a lot of ways to understand what is happening in the Eucharist. Transubstantiation, Transignification, Real Presence, Memorialism, Receptionism, and the list goes on. This theological murkiness has occurred, in part, because Jesus wasn’t all that specific in what he meant when he said, “this is my body,” “this is my blood,” and “do this in remembrance of me.” Depending on one’s tradition, one or more of these phrases (or even the words within them) can be given undue influence.
In our Gospel lesson for Sunday, as well as the Collect for Easter 3, we are put to mind that, for Luke, the common meal of Christians, commonly called the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist, Holy Communion, and the Great Thanksgiving, among other options, is about anamnesis: the remembering of an event based on past experience. Cleopas and the unnamed disciples recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread because four days earlier, they had seen him do the exact same thing. Not that blessing and breaking bread was uncommon in 1st century Jewish life, but that this blessing, this breaking, was different. It was the blessing of their Rabbi, now their risen Lord, who had commanded them to break bread and share the cup in remembrance of him.
Two thousand years removed from that first Last Supper, we who are people of broken bread don’t have the recollection of the past event to draw on for ourselves. What we do have, however, is the unbroken history of bread being broken from a Thursday evening in first century Jerusalem all the way up to today. Our remembrance, our anamnesis, is based on the shared experience of generations of believers. We remember because we have been told the story by those who have been told the story… by those who lived the story. When we pray that our eyes might be open, we are asking God to tap us into the ongoing unveiling of the story, that we might take our place in remembering and sharing the good news of the risen Lord.