“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body’”.
Matt 26:26 NIV
The night before he was crucified, Jesus ate with his disciples. He broke bread and gave it to them. He shared wine with them as well. In some form of repetition of that event there has developed the central celebration in worship for most Christian churches. And in others, where it is not the central focus of worship, it is still accorded a significant place.
So Jesus took an ordinary, everyday thing, on which most people depend for their food and energy, and made it into a symbol of his life and a recalling of his presence. The bread is a product of humanity’s toil with the elements of nature. It is the most common product on the face of the globe that sustains life and “keeps us going”. Jesus had earlier said to them, “I am the bread of life” (Jn 6:35). It is a strange feature of Christianity that a common physical substance can become the vehicle whereby the spiritual reality of Christ’s life and his presence can be conveyed to believing disciples. But in the celebration (“The Lord’s Supper”, “Holy Communion”, “Eucharist”, “the Mass), especially when it is practiced over a prolonged period, people experience Christ’s presence as at no other time.
The word “bread” has become used as a synonym for money, for work, and even for wealth. And extreme poverty is marked by an absence of bread. “Ordinary” bread satisfies our hunger pains. The bread of Christ’s body satisfies our souls and we “feed on him in our hearts by faith, with thanksgiving”.
Lord, let me ever feast on you.