Bread & Wine
The kitchen table of my childhood was a hub of activity, nourishment, and connection. A drawing of Jesus hung on the wall, giving us a feeling of his presence at every meal. As we shared food, stories, and ideas, we learned about nutrition, manners, gratitude, and - thanks to my sister - current events. When things got too serious, my brother would say or do something to make me laugh, and he and I would start giggling. I sat beside my dad, and when I couldn’t finish my meal or just didn’t like something, I would slip it onto his plate. He was always glad to assist, but my mother would say, “Tom, you don’t have to be a garbage can!” From what I understand, our family table was a balance between those of my parents who grew up in starkly different environments. In my dad’s family of seven, everyone talked at once. In my mother’s home, children were to be seen and not heard, and the kitchen table was a quiet and serious place. Together they managed to create a happy, healthy gathering place where body, mind, and spirit were fed.
In our current fast-food culture, we are often deprived of much more than good nutrition. Our hunger for human connection can manifest as depression, anxiety, addiction, and illness. Holy Week celebrates the symbolism and significance of gathering around the table and breaking bread. Jesus taught the importance of spiritual food, gratitude, and service. He gave thanks, broke the bread, poured the wine, and washed his friends' feet. He demonstrated faith, abundance, and humility. He was Divine Love personified and showed us how to receive and share that Love. When we look at his life, we see that he was all about feeding people, and he taught his disciples to do the same. He fed thousands on a hillside, turned water to wine at a wedding feast, and had meals with social outcasts. He knew that in the breaking of bread, bellies and hearts are opened and filled. Healing can take place on every level as our inner hunger is satisfied by the “bread of life,” or Divine Love. He said that when we eat thisbread, we will never be hungry. And when we are filled and nourished, we can feed others out of our abundance.
Jesus often used nature metaphors in his parables and teachings to help people see the activity and Presence of God within creation. For example, he likened our relationship with God to that of the vine and its branches. As the life force flows from the vine into and through the branches, it produces rich fruit. When we live in conscious connection to our Source, allowing Love to flow freely through us, our lives are filled with joy, beauty, and abundance. At the Last Supper, Jesus referred to the wine as a symbol of his blood. His life force was poured out in an act of radical love and surrender. As the bread was broken and wine was poured, Jesus was preparing himself and his disciples for what lay ahead. He gave them “a new commandment” or “mandate” to love one another as he had loved them. Through his words and actions, he revealed the true essence of Divine Love, and asked that we remember this every time we eat and drink.
Bread and wine. Life and love. Gratitude and abundance. Healing and grace. The elements of who we are and how much we are loved, demonstrated so beautifully in the life of Jesus. Regardless of our religious beliefs, we are called to Love's table to discover wholeness, connection, and abundant life. The Easter story shows us that our divinity can break through barriers of fear and doubt to heal and restore humanity. It reveals a universal truth that transcends religion and culture – Love is Omnipotence and Omnipresence. It is revealed to us in the simple and ordinary - around the table, in the community, and in the garden. It is our Source, our sustenance, and our joy forever.
Rise & shine,
Elisa J. Juarez