Sister Brenda Rose Szegedy, OSF
Each year the ADVENT/CHRISTMAS season offers us an invitation to ponder anew the Mystery of God’s Wondrous Love among us. Jesus gives himself to the world from a lowly manger in Bethlehem, which means “House of Bread.” Years later Jesus manifests his Love on a Galilean hillside as he breaks a few loaves of bread and some fish and multiplies these among the people. On the night before he died when he was gathered at table with his disciples, Jesus blesses and breaks the bread and shares it saying, “This is My Body broken for you.” The early Christians recognized Jesus “in the breaking of the bread.”
A recent experience, invited me to recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread in a totally unforeseen way. It was Thursday in late September of this year, five days before a dear priest friend, Fr. Tony Dummer, OMI died. He had been suffering from an aggressive form of cancer. In his weakened condition, he lay on his bed in a nearby Hospice Care Center. It was my turn that day to bring him Holy Communion. As I held the Eucharist before Tony, I was aware of the countless times he himself held the Sacred Host before us at our daily Eucharistic gatherings at Christ the King Retreat Center. This time it was I who had the honor to proclaim, “Behold the Lamb of God”… “Body of Christ” as I placed the Sacred Host in Tony’s open hand. His other hand lay at his side as he lacked the strength to lift it. He responded “Amen” as he slowly brought the Host down to his weaker hand. Then with both hands he reverently broke the Host in half, and lifting one of the halves towards me asked, “Will you receive Jesus with me?” “Amen,” I responded. It was in that moment that “the breaking of the bread” took on renewed meaning for me. This sacred gesture that takes place at the altar in every Mass throughout the world invites us to not only recognize Jesus but to break the bread of our lives with one another.
Both in his living and in his dying, Tony witnessed the meaning of the breaking of the bread… to give our lives for the good of others and to be changed in the giving. Prior to his death, he asked each of us on the retreat team to pray for strength for him as well as for ourselves to accept God’s Will and to let go. Tony’s life… our lives… like that of Jesus, are meant to be broken and shared with a world that hungers for renewed hope amid painful realities. May we learn how to recognize Jesus and one another as we break bread together around the table of daily life.