“Do this in remembrance of me.”
Breaking bread and bones.
I remember attending a Hibs v. Dundee match in 1968 where, in one of those rare moments of silence in a game, Dundee’s great goal scorer, John Duncan, was heavily tackled, right in front of me. The Easter Road stadium resounded with a crack as his tibia broke.
Many years later at a passover meal I was reminded of that moment when the matzo was broken with a sharp crack. Matzos break with the same sound as bones break. My memory reminded me of the moment the player broke his leg. The scriptures, especially John’s gospel, make it clear that Jesus did not have any of his bones broken. At the last supper Jesus broke the unleavened bread, undoubtedly with a sharp “crack!”.
What Jesus then said was, “Do this in memory of me.”
Broken bones or not, we have made a lot of doctrine and talked a lot of Theology about the Last Supper but these words leave no room for misinterpretation. When I was walking through Spain on the Way of St. James last month, bread was the core of my diet along with fruit picked on the roadside. So whenever I sat down to eat, I would take the local bread and break it very consciously recalling Jesus’ words. The walk was over 500 miles and I can’t remember just when I began to do this but it was early on.
In doing, memory brings us into Christ.
For days and weeks, sitting on stones or walls, or benches or trees I broke my bread letting the Last Supper of Jesus fill me. In the doing itself images began to give way to presence, simply being subsumed in the act of breaking the bread into a oneness for which I have no words. I had emotions of all sorts from tears to joy and always peace, deep quiet peace and a heart touched by Love. Maybe we should throw our breadknives into the recycle bin and use our hands to break bread always.
When I would find a Mass, I would go to it, pleased to join others in this memorial act which brings us together always as one in Christ.
It seemed fitting to me that other pilgrims would share the bread although I know they were not always Catholics. Breaking the bread is not about breaking bones at all, or breaking anything for that matter: it is about making One.