By: Deacon Marques Silva
Happy Thanksgiving (in advance)! For most families,Thanksgiving 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 and He provided it for them.
Jesus used food and drink to teach us the most precious mystery of our faith: The Holy Eucharist. He used the joy and feasting of the Wedding at Cana to show that the simple element of water could become more than itself by becoming wine. Through the multiplication of loaves, He foreshadowed not only the ultimate potential of bread but the multiplication of Himself under the veil of such a simple and daily need.
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? Salvation came to that house when, regardless of Zacchaeus’ reputation, Jesus insisted in sharing a meal. 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 nuptial self-gifting became the context for providing for us His Body and Blood through the Divine Liturgy. Through this Paschal meal, he brought to fullness all the Passover Sedars. This particular todahor thanksgiving meal was shared intimately within community. All meals in Jesus’ life led up to this particular meal which he transformed from “glory to glory.” Even after his death and resurrection, who could forget that He chose to reveal and reconcile Himself to Peter and the Apostles over the intimacy of a meal on the beach.
The family meal is so important. Growing up, regardless of the various sports events, 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. Now as a parent, I also insist that we eat our meals together. I think that the family meal is one of the most important, and overlooked, moments in our lives. Sr. Timothy Prokes, FSE, wrote in a 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!