After Jesus rose from the dead on Easter Sunday, he never tried to explain how he was once again alive, at least not in a way his closest friends might understand. They saw something different about him, but in an awesome and wonderful way. So Jesus didn’t just go back to doing everything he did like before. He didn’t just hang out with them anymore or argue with the Pharisees. He didn’t preach to large crowds or heal the sick like before. But also, he was always trying to prove that he was the same Jesus they knew and loved. He kept greeting them “Peace,” and telling them not to be afraid. He even let them see the bruises and wounds he received when he was put to death. And today he ate breakfast with them. It was fish, but that’s what they ate then. And he ate.
He didn’t introduce himself. When friends get together, it’s like they just pick up where they left off. But everyone knew Jesus had been dead, and now he was alive. And still no one asked him who he was. When the man on the shore told them where to cast their nets, and they took in a great haul of fish, the disciple whom Jesus loved was sure it was him. But he still had to tell Peter, who didn’t have a clue.
“Come have something to eat,” Jesus tells them as they get out of the boat. It was a familiar backdrop for something important among friends. Before he embraced his suffering and death, Jesus broke bread and took a cup of wine, said a blessing, and gave it to his friends telling them it was his body they were eating, and his blood they were drinking. Clearly, something was up. When you spend time with friends, it makes sense for you to share a meal. But eating their flesh and drinking their blood makes absolutely no sense. Jesus meant that he desires to be as close to his friends as the food they ate, how at some point it becomes hard to tell where the food we eat and drink ends and our own flesh and blood begins. So when we break the bread that is his body and drink the wine that is his blood, he is not only among us. More importantly, he is within us.
Each time we come to mass, Jesus feeds us at two tables, the table of his Word and the table of his Eucharist. Jesus invites us to a banquet not only to feed our bodies, but also to nourish our souls. When we share a meal with people we love, we feed our bodies wholesome food and drink. When we listen sincerely, when we share ideas and conversation and laughter, we nourish our souls. But if we eat too fast, or we stuff our faces without care for those around us, we might as well be eating alone. If we watch TV while we eat or are too busy reading the paper or playing games on our phones, we fail to make a connection with those around us.
We probably know Eucharist better by another name, Holy Communion. It is called holy because it unites us and God. And by calling it communion, we describe the deeper connection we share with God and those around us. It is more than being in the same room together. It is about God sharing with us friendship and loving concern, and about us sharing the same with people gathered with us around God’s table.
“Come have something to eat,” Jesus tells us, inviting us to hear his Word and partake of his body and blood. He is among us and within us. Welcome to the Table.
Rolo B Castillo © 2019