(If I had a job, this would be my sermon tonight.)
Jesus holds up a loaf of bread in front of his faithful, fearful followers and says loudly, “This is me. Take and eat it.”
The waiter approaches your table and asks, “Would you like to hear tonight’s specials?” “Sure, hit it,” we reply. “Well, we have a loaf of bread on a platter, slices of bread cut up into small pieces and our specialty is one piece of rye, toasted for that extra taste.” You’d leave the restaurant wondering what just happened.
It’s the second, third or fourth addition to a meal: bread. Bread is the extra that accompanies your plate’s meal. A little butter on it and you’re all set to enjoy your meal with a small piece of it on the edge of your plate.
Bread. Is it an after-thought or is it that assumed addition that completes any meal? The most basic of all foods is the one Jesus chooses to be himself. A more gifted preacher chose an entree as his(her)self because that way their importance would be the main course. In our U.S. culture bread is an afterthought, an “Oh, I almost forgot to put the… out,” statement.
Jesus holds up his glass of wine and announces to the those still wondering about the “bread thing” and says, “I am the wine.” “Now, your talking,” says the gadfly, bunch of fishermen, a tax collector, and the traitor. The wine of lifting spirits and saying things you wouldn’t say at work. That’s the power of wine.
Bread absorbs and wine exudes. Together they make for a wonderful meal. Jesus makes the two himself combining those two verbs into one. We need to absorb constantly in our wild culture of images and words and then release the best of us in our words and actions.
Jesus chose the basics to make them prominent. Jesus chose the essentials to make them essential.
Holy Thursday is about returning and retrieving life’s basics – humbling service to others (washing feet?!), and those two lifted things that Jesus lifted up to become extraordinary: bread and wine.
Could that “bread and wine” be our lives? I wonder. Stay tuned because tomorrow is Good Friday and what’s so “good” about it?
Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.
Available at Amazon.com:
“Soulful Musings,” reflections on the Catholic Church and American culture
“Living Faith’s Mysteries,” reflection on the Christian seasons of
Advent, Christmas/Lent, Easter
“Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,” reflections on the Catholic Church and American culture