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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

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To Share Food is to Share Life

You may have noticed how often the resurrection appearances are linked with meals. I have already mentioned the story of the two men on the road to Emmaus who recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread. Jesus also took and ate a fish to demonstrate that he had actually risen from the dead.

In John 21:1-14, he directs his disciples to throw their net into the sea and there is a miraculous catch. When some of it is cooked, he “came over, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.” The Eucharistic themes are unavoidable. He makes himself present to us when we gather in his name and eat the bread of life. The symbol of the fish, because of its recurrent use, has also become a signature of sorts for the presence of the risen Lord. Indeed, in the midst of persecution, Christians would often draw a fish upon the ground as a secret sign that it was safe to speak, that they were all among friends.

It is no accident that the Lord uses the occasion of the meal to repeatedly reveal himself to his friends. It is an ancient maxim that to share food is to share life. What better sign could there be then for the resurrection to be seen in its greatest glory. The disciples recall all the past times when they would gather with their master and share nourishment. We can imagine that these were occasions of great intimacy and bonding. When the Christian community was exiled from the synagogues, and we can see such friction as this in Acts 4:1-12, the meal they celebrated in common upon the following day increased in importance. In the early days of the Church, this agape or love feast included a regular banquet where they recalled the stories of Jesus and was followed by the commemoration of the Lord’s Last Supper with his friends — the Eucharist. As time passed, and the first meal became unwieldy, it was dropped and the celebration of the sacrament became the principal meal that Christians celebrated as a family. It is still in this spiritual food that the risen Jesus is made present in our midst. He gives it to us and it is he. Just as we need food for physical nourishment; so too do we need the Eucharist to nurture us and to keep us spiritually alive in faith.

For more such reflections, contact me about getting my book, CHRISTIAN REFLECTIONS.

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