Art reflection on “I am the bread of Life”
“I am the bread of life. Your [forebears in the faith] ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread he will live forever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.” (John 6:48-51; RSV. Emphasis added.)
“One of them recoils. One buries his head in the Lord’s broad lap. What would you do if, mid-meal, [as the bread was broken, that] light suddenly broke from a body rather than your own … and a stranger suddenly became in very flesh the friend whose death you mourned?
“You would be shocked, no doubt – horror, amazement, joy, dismay competing, no words available for the occasion. You might embrace him, weeping, or grasp instead at some shred of rationality while your pupils contracted and your heartbeat in your throat.
“It might be harder than you think to give up three days’ mourning, memories already being edited and arranged. The story had seemed complete. Having a tale to tell, you might already have found a way to tell it whole, rich with mystery, rounded and resonant with meaning.
“You might have been ready to go back home, tired of all that wandering, ready to sit at the lakeside and take up the nets again, writing a little, keeping your counsel, sharing a parable now and then with those who had seen him once, who remembered the picnic with thousands of folk on that hillside – all that bread and fish.
“You would have had to give up yet again what you thought you had a right to claim. Turns out He meant it – the promise you’d already begun to turn to metaphor. But here Pastor John Christopherson Marilyn McEntyre 19 in dazzling flesh, leaning back to let himself be seen, he leaves them no choice but to lay aside sweet sorrow and cancel all their plans for the aftermath.” Marilyn Chandler McEntyre, from her little gem of a monograph entitled: Drawn to the Light: Poems on Rembrandt’s Religious Paintings, pp.56-57
“When Jesus was at the table with [the couple from Emmaus], he took the bread and blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and Jesus vanished out of their sight. … Then they told [the other disciples] what had happened on the road [to Emmaus], and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.” (Luke 24:30-31, 35; RSV. Emphasis added.)