Why Did the Risen Jesus Cook Breakfast for the Disciples?
by Fr. Chris Singer
I love food. My parents tell me that, as a little child, I was a mostly calm, happy-go-lucky kid—unless I was hungry. Then I turned into a monster. But once I found something to eat—serenity returned. Some of my family members say that little has changed with me in the many intervening years! I grew up working in my family’s food business. Stories about food get my attention.
Thus I’m a fan of the resurrection stories. They often involve food. In Luke, the risen Jesus walks unrecognized with two of his disciples. It was only after they arrived at the village of Emmaus, and Jesus broke the bread at the dinner table, that they finally recognized him. The story continues with Jesus appearing to a group of disciples and asking them, “Do you have anything to eat here?” They gave him a piece of baked fish. (Luke 24:13-48) Then there is the scene with Peter and other disciples after a long day of fishing. They see the risen Lord calling them from the shore. When they arrive, they find that he has cooked a breakfast of bread and fish for them and invites them to “Come, have breakfast.” (John 21:1-14) I’ll bet there were some eggs and pancakes on the side too!
All this talk about food makes me hungry. But it also makes me wonder why Jesus put such emphasis on eating. Maybe he was just hungry. Jesus did some other curious things right after the resurrection: like breathing on his disciples and inviting Thomas to actually touch his nail wounds and feel the sword gash in his side. Jesus seems to be going out of his way to assure his friends that it was really he who was present; not a ghost or vision. It was he, fully alive and in the flesh.
“‘The flesh is the hinge of salvation.’ We believe in God who is creator of the flesh; we believe in the Word made flesh in order to redeem the flesh; we believe in the resurrection of the flesh, the fulfilment of both the creation and the redemption of the flesh.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church n. 1015.)
These resurrection scenes drive home to us the importance of the flesh, that is, the human body. For Jesus, his physical body wasn’t just something that he “wore” while on earth, but part of his very being. And for us, our bodies are not something solely for this life which we forever discard at the time of death. As human beings, we are a beautifully mysterious combination of body and spirit. Just as in the Ascension, Jesus took his resurrected body with him back to the Father, we, too, at the end of time, will receive back our glorified body for entrance into heaven. The body is a profoundly good part of how God created us. The body is holy—thus what we do with our bodies really matters.
The newly canonized Saint John Paul II spent many years of his life reflecting on the meaning of the body. Drawing from the Bible and theology, he composed a work called the Theology of the Body. He explains that it is through the body, and the experiences of the body, that we most completely come to know ourselves and God. St. John Paul II makes this bold assertion:
“The body, in fact, and it alone, is capable of making visible what is invisible: the spiritual and divine.” (Feb. 20, 1980)
Over these next few months, I invite you to join me in exploring how our bodies help us to better understand ourselves, and the God who made us.
In May, spring takes hold and our senses are heightened. Our senses, working through our body, allow us to feel a warm breeze, enjoy a sunset, listen to music, share a handshake and give a hug. They also allow us to enjoy a burger off the backyard grill. And that makes someone like me quite happy about the Theology of the Body!
About the author
Fr. Chris Singer is chancellor of the Diocese of Erie and presented a lecture series on the Theology of the Body in the Fall of 2014. Reprinted with permission from FAITH magazine in the Diocese of Erie (Last Word column).