‘Come and have breakfast’: Unravelling the mystery of food in Jesus’ life

Apr 3, 2024 by

By Richard Ounsworth OP, Catholic Herald.

I wrote in this column a couple of years ago that “there is something odd about Christ’s risen body”, which I suppose is fairly obvious. But I meant something more than the fact that it was risen, whereas most dead bodies stay dead.

I was writing then about the fact that Christ’s body is simultaneously recognisable and unrecognisable, and I gave the examples of the encounter with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus at the end of St Luke’s Gospel and the conclusion of the fishing trip in the last chapter of John.

Something else that these two strange incidents have in common, of course, is eating. The two disciples recognise Jesus in the breaking of bread, in what is in fact the eighth meal Jesus eats in that Gospel. The seventh, you will not be surprised to hear, is the Last Supper, and this eighth we might call the First Supper of the new creation.

We are told that, as Jesus broke the bread (an obvious echo of the Last Supper and the institution of the Eucharist), the disciples’ eyes were opened. This too is an echo, but of a very much earlier event: in the Garden of Eden, the eyes of Adam and Eve were opened to their nakedness after they had eaten of the forbidden fruit, and they were ashamed. Interestingly, this is the only verbal echo of or reference to any particular passage in the Old Testament in St Luke’s account of the resurrection appearances.

At that first creation, food brings with it the gift of knowledge, but with that gift comes the terrible curse of the Fall, expulsion from Eden, and the shadow of shame that is cast over humanity from that moment on. At the second creation, which is what the Resurrection is and what the Resurrection launches, the food from the tree of life – the Cross – brings with it the knowledge of the mysteries of God hidden from all ages, it brings about the reversal of the fall, the end of humanity’s exile, and the abolition of shame.

Read here.

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