Breaking bread to recognizing Jesus
If Maundy Thursday was the symbolic breaking of the body (also the actual act of washing the feet of the disciples), the good Friday was the real enactment of the breaking of the body. Now it's interesting to see an apparition of the Risen Lord, which also speaks of the breaking of bread.
- The famous walk of two disciples to Emmaus in dejection and in discussion is the first scene. A stranger joins them, hears their story, helps them to understand the scriptures. They request the stranger to stay with them for the evening. When they were at table, the stranger took bread, give thanks, said the blessing and gave to them. (the same action as on the last Supper). They recognized Jesus in that act. Surely they were prepared by Jesus by explaining scriptures, but the final recognition happened for them in the breaking and giving of the bread.
Is this the only way of recognizing Jesus? No. But this is a significant way of recognizing Jesus. A few thoughts that emerge from this possibility is,
- Are our eucharistic celebrations means of recognizing Jesus? I am not speaking of high feelings or extra-ordinary visions during the eucharistic meal. Recognizing Jesus means it’s a moment of holiness…a moment of mercy…a moment of love, joy, peace. Or a few moments of…. Yes that's why a beautiful reminder of Mother Theresa to all priests to celebrate “each eucharist as your first mass, the last mass and the only mass.” Recognizing Jesus there can create same or greater fruits as the disciples on the road to Emmaus.
- Are our meals at home or parties, where there is breaking of bread, also an occasion for recognizing Jesus. I think potential do lie there. Jesus’ presence can be recognized not only in the churches, but also in domestic churches called families, and may be secular churches called pubs, market places, restaurants etc.
Most Christians may not have difficulty with the idea of encountering Jesus in eucharist or in families (whether we do or not is another question), but some will find encountering Jesus in the so-called public places (or secular churches as I dare to call) a little strange.
At times, I think encountering Jesus in the public places is the greatest requirement of the Christian of our times. Encounter helps us to recognise the sanctity of those places. Encounter makes us realize the potential of those places to be avenues of love, peace and joy. They truly become churches.