The two disciples whom Jesus joined on the road to Emmaus recognised him in the breaking of the bread. What is a more common, ordinary gesture than breaking bread? It may be the most human of all human gestures: a gesture of hospitality, friendship, care, and the desire to be together. Taking a loaf of bread, blessing it, breaking it, and giving it to those seated around the table signifies unity, community, and peace. When Jesus does this he does the most ordinary as well as the most extraordinary. It is the most human as well as the most divine gesture.
The great mystery is that this daily and most human gesture is the way we recognise the presence of Christ among us. God becomes most present when we are most human…
When we gather around the table and eat from the same loaf and drink from the same cup, we are most vulnerable to one another. We cannot have a meal together in peace with guns hanging over our shoulders and pistols attached to our belts. When we break bread together we leave our arms - whether they are physical or mental - at the door and enter into a place of mutual vulnerability and trust.
The beauty of the Eucharist is precisely that it is the place where a vulnerable God invites vulnerable people to come together in a peaceful meal. When we break bread and give it to each other, fear vanishes and God becomes very close.
Something like this strikes me at every celebration of the Eucharist. “Though we are many, we are one body, because we all share in one bread…”
We who share in this most blessed sacrament are truly one, one community, one body of Christ, through the Body by which he is made present to us, this Blood he shed for us. This is real, not some man-made symbol; this uniting is something far deeper than anything that could ever separate us, and far deeper than anything we could ever do ourselves to bring us together. The very act of God is here among us each time we celebrate this most glorious event; how could we ever have thought otherwise? Jesus himself told us, “This is my body… This cup… is the new covenant in my blood…” The verb is clean, present, real. In this moment, so are we – for an instant, at least, we can glimpse the shores of heaven; for a moment, we can be who we were made to be. This “amen” is for each of us, just for a shining second, our own surrender, our “let it be to me according to your word.”
Christ in each of us, the hope of glory…