(written for The Nationalist but not submitted, April 2004)
On one occasion, two followers of Jesus were walking in the country, and talking about recent events. They were downhearted about the killing of Jesus by their leaders, because they hoped that he would have freed them from the Roman occupation. They had the wrong expectations of Jesus.
Then Jesus, in his risen form, came alongside them, but they didn’t recognize him. They told him what they’d been talking about, adding that some women said that he had risen. They dismissed what the women said, but began to think again when their report was confirmed by some men friends of theirs. (Typical men, say the women!)
Jesus then went through the scriptures and explained to them the prophecies of the past about himself. Even then, they still didn’t recognize him.
They invited him to a meal with them. (A meal is a universal sign of friendship; the word “companion” literally means someone you’ve had bread with). When they sat down together, he took bread, blessed it, broke it and handed it to them. And it was then, in the breaking of the bread, that they recognized him. After that, he left them. And then they said, in effect, ‘We knew all along’ – they were wise after the event. The two then began to tell everyone how they had recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread.
They had failed to see Jesus present in the other. The human is the medium of the divine. When we recognize and respect the humanity of the other, we recognize God in them. With Jesus, the human was the barometer of the divine.
They met around a table. They sat down for it; it wasn’t a guzzle-and-go meal, taken on the run. (Meals taken from freezer to microwave, and devoured in silence in front of the TV, or while on internet, deprive us of intimacy and friendship.) The family that eats together, meets together.
“The breaking of bread” was an early Christian name for the Mass, the Eucharist, a word which means praise, blessing and thanksgiving. The Mass isn’t an obligation; it’s a grace and a privilege, something to enter into willingly with our eyes and hearts open.
For those in a hurry: ‘No is an answer to prayer – even if it’s not the one you’re looking for’. (Anon.)