Eucharistic Hospitality ~ In the Breaking of the Bread
As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. (Luke 24:28-31)
There is something profoundly meaningful about a shared meal. The gift of hospitality offered to the guest is not only biblical, it is one of the deepest expressions of what it means to be a human. We all must eat to survive; but it is by eating in community that we thrive.
Even more important in this reading is the way in which the hosts were blessed by the presence of the guest. When someone honors us by accepting our invitation to break bread – to share a meal, they are also honoring and expressing thanks for our common humanity.
Most likely the couple with whom Jesus breaks bread in Emmaus was also present with him at the Last Supper. They recognize him through the action of breaking bread and they immediately return to Jerusalem to share the news with the others. Clearly they had broken bread with him before.
So, do we recognize Jesus when we come to the table at Holy Communion? Probably. But do we also recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread at our tables at home? Through his actions at the Last Supper, Jesus has forever changed our relationship with bread and wine. In fact, he has changed our relationship with food, period.
He has reminded us that being fed is both a physical and spiritual action and that the two are neither easily nor wisely separated.
When you prepare a meal, be mindful of what you are doing, and prepare the meal with love and care. And when you share a meal, look for the presence of Christ at the table, and especially in the faces of those around you.
Alleluia! Christ is Risen!