This theme also dominates the Gospel reading today. It is only in the blessing and breaking of bread that Cleopas and the other disciple realize Jesus is with them.
I think of the many meals I have shared with others. At work, we have dinner for students, and often others in the community every week. Sitting down and eating with others provides time for discussion.
When I’ve gone to friend’s houses for dinner, what is served, what decorations are in the home, and how the table is set often reveals a lot about them. Is the meal about providing good food? Is it about the company and food is secondary? Is a certain heritage reflected in what is served? Are there family photos or classic artwork on the walls? Is the house perfectly tidy or lived in and homey?
In working with a refugee family over the past nine months, it is through meals that they show gratitude. It has also been over meals that they have shared their history, culture, and parts of their story. Cheese, vegetables, eggs, olives and yogurt are shared with many hands tearing large rounds of pita bread and dipping into the sauces.
Bread, in one form or another, is a universal food. Whether the sourdough spongy bread from Ethiopia, fresh tortillas in Central America, crusty loaves waiting to be smeared with cheese in Portugal, Brown Bread or Scones crammed with raisins and currants in Ireland or the Schnitzbrod that my Grandmother baked every Christmas, bread is part of our communal experience of eating.
It is no wonder that Jesus was revealed in the breaking of the bread; meals were an integral part to his ministry of presence and hospitality. The disciples, previously scared and scattered, were comfortable and relaxed at a meal with their guest. Breaking of bread allowed for seeing not just with the eyes, but with the heart.
It takes the slowness of a sit-down meal to see those with which you share a meal. A glass of wine, dinner and a cup of tea over dessert… By the end of the evening, seeing and being seen, revelation over time.
As you sit down to your next meal, what might Christ be revealing to you in the others around you?
Prayer: Risen Christ, may we recognize you in the Eucharist we receive at Mass and through the many other breaking bread moments we share.
Sister Jennifer Schaaf, OP