" ....he ....broke it (bread) and began to give it to them" (Luke 24:30)
Years ago, in a seminary class, a church history lecturer introduced me to the writings of the Japanese theologian, Kosuke Koyama. Koyama (1929-2009). Koyama wrote that when the bread is broken, there is a space created between the two pieces of bread. This space is sacred. And this space is also filled up by people who are broken in their lives.
Koyama challenged us to embrace the broken humanity in this space. Koyama did not just write academically. As he wrote, he listened to the cries of the broken people in this world. He heard them with the ears of a child who experienced the fire-bombing of Japan. He heard them with the ears of a missionary to the urban poor of Thailand. The broken Christ not only healed but also embraced this broken world, Koyama said.
In our discipleship journey, have we come to know the God who has a compassionate heart for this broken world? Have we been confronted by the broken Christ? And are we responding to the broken people that live between the space of two pieces of broken bread?
Luke tells us from the beginning of the gospel that Jesus came with compassion to reach out to a broken world (see how Jesus describes his mission in Luke 4:18-19). In the gospel we see Jesus ministering to people who had broken bodies, broken hearts and broken hopes. We read that when Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless (see Matthew 9).
Today Jesus will continue to have a compassionate heart as he sees the many helpless and broken people in our midst. This Covid-19 pandemic has affected many lives. Daily, we see more and more broken lives and families, as well as the "broken" companies and communities around us.
Desperate people are flying white flags - crying for help - outside their houses because of their broken rice bowls. Today we also read of the distressing news of our "broken" public hospitals where patients have no beds and doctors are doing their procedures on the floor. The Health Director-General has said that there are four suicide cases every day.
Lord, may you have mercy for so many people are having broken jobs, broken hopes, and broken hearts and broken lives in this difficult time.
Lord we are broke and broken. We are surrounded by broken homes, broken bodies, broken dreams, broken health and broken vows.
There is the sorrow of the faithful wife who sits alone in the late hours of the night, her heart broken into tiny pieces, waiting for the one she thought loved her.
There is also the sorrow of a mother whose babe she nursed at her bosom a long time ago now breaks her heart because of his wayward life.
If we are willing, the theologian and spiritual writer Henri Nouwen helps us to see how our brokenness leads us toward God:
"The hunger of the poor, the torture of prisoners, the threat of war in many countries, and the immense human suffering we hear about from all directions can call us for a deeply human response ... if we are willing to see the brokenness of our human beings the brokenness of God."
Lord, help us to see the broken world in the space held between the two pieces of the broken bread. Grant us your heart of compassion to reach out to the broken people around us. And may your Word minister to us in the many broken situations in our lives. You, O Lord, are "close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." (see Psalm 34:18). Amen.