Happy Thanksgiving! If your family is like mine, today will be a day of family, feasting, and fun. And, that is the way it should be. Meals are incredibly important to our understanding of who we are and our communion with others. Jesus’ own ministry demonstrates the importance of meals.
His great respect for food and drink can be seen throughout his public ministry. His first public miracle was changing water into wine. He understood our need for bodily nourishment. When He raised Jarius’ daughter from the dead, he did not wait for thanks, but told them to get her something to eat. When the crowds came to hear him teach and Jesus saw they came without food, He provided it for them.
He believed in the dignity of all creation and particularly food. The devil tempted Him in the desert to turn stones into bread and, though hungry, He refused. Jesus recognized that the stone was something real and should be respected and likewise with the bread. He showed the great potential of water becoming more than itself by becoming wine. Through the multiplication of loaves, He used it to show the ultimate potential of bread.
It is interesting to note that our Lord taught the meaning of forgiveness, the supremacy of love, and the dignity of service in the context of meals. Remember Zacchaeus once he came down from the tree? Perhaps when he visited Mary and Martha for a meal and had to calm Martha’s anxiety over the preparation? Of course, one of my favorites is the Samaritan woman at the well when our Lord said that while the water might refresh, He could give a drink that would quench her thirst eternally.
At the Last Supper, His self-gifting became the context for giving us the His Body and Blood. Through this Paschal meal, he brought to fullness all the Passover Sedars; the manna in the desert that had been celebrated since the captivity in Egypt. The Last Supper is replete with meaning and emphasizes the sacredness of every meal that He had partaken of in Nazareth, Bethany and Capernum. Notice that after the Resurrection, He revealed Himself to the Apostles in the intimacy of a meal on the beach.
The family meal is so important. Growing up, regardless of the dive or track meets, the meetings or getting home late from work, we always ate our meals together. If dad was getting home late, a snack could hold us over. In my own family, we also eat our meals together. The family meal is one of the most important, and overlooked, moments in our lives. Sr. Timothy Prokes, FSE in her chapter on Real Food and Virtual Nourishment says,
It is difficult for persons who have not experienced the simple, consistent ritual of family meals to know the significance of Jesus’ revelations and actions being integrated within meals.
Faith is more caught than taught. For Jesus, the best place to be with His companions (which incidentally means “together with bread”) was a meal. They were not only teaching moments but moments of community. So, as you gather to be thankful for God’s blessings and time with your family, remember to talk about the things closest to your heart. It is during this time that you will be learning and teaching the most profound aspect of the theology of the Trinity…Communion. Happy Thanksgiving!