Sunday’s Gospel spoke of Jesus’ appearance to two of His disciples after He rose from the dead. Despite the movement of the men’s hearts and the authority with which Jesus spoke, even these disciples failed to recognize Jesus until He broke bread with them.
And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning [within us] while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:30-32)
The priest spoke of breaking bread together as a family saying many families are so busy they fail to eat together and of how this rushed lifestyle leads to brokenness in so many homes.
He implored families to eat together every day.
He implored families to pray together saying,
The family that prays together, stays together.
It was a message delivered by a priest I genuinely like, a message I believe more need to act upon and yet,
It’s a message that had me cringing in my seat and my younger boys looking up at me with questions in their big blue eyes, questions I understood because they had reverberated from my broken heart to my confused and terrified mind many times in the months after my husband’s sudden departure.
Why hadn’t that work for us?
Why hadn’t we stayed together?
Every night at dinner until three days before my husband left, we ate together as a family. My ex and I always sat next to one another presenting a unity that I thought transcended the physical location of our bodies.
To make matters more confusing,
we said our mealtime prayer together,
Every night. As a family. Holding hands.
So what happened?
I’ve gone through the possibilities over and over:
Did the family that prays together, stays together become so cliche for us that it had lost its meaning?
Did our prayer become stale, rote, tradition, rather than worship, gratitude, love?
Was the saying true or was it some made up expression designed to give a false sense of power or was it used to pull people into meaningless religion?
I don’t think so. I think the family that prays together, stays together – sometimes.
But in our case, it didn’t work; so was our dining and prayer useless?
I can’t speak for what my ex was thinking, but for the boys and me, this time together had become so ingrained in our family’s lifestyle that it was no longer an effort.
Every night we ate together and prayed over that meal while holding hands.
It wasn’t a question.
It wasn’t an effort.
It was part of us.
Remembering that time of chaos and hurt, the gathering of what remained of my family around a meal, seeing God in the faces of my children as we broke bread together, I also see God slowly bringing beauty from our ashes as together we broke bread and thanked Him for His blessings.
Together, we thanked those who had provided us with our food – the farmers who raised the products, the truck drivers who delivered them, the grocery store clerks who sold the goods.
We thanked those who brought meals to our home, especially in the early days after Kaleb was born and I was too distraught to handle cooking, the hunters who showed up with venison, the school teacher who arranged for our Thanksgiving basket, and others who delivered groceries when child support failed to come in.
It was over the shared meal and through joined prayer, that we, like the disciples meeting Jesus on the road to Emmaus, realized we are never alone.
It was through the breaking of bread that we remained firm in our faith and came to know Jesus and one another better.
Today, my boys and I still eat and pray together every night. Some nights that hand holding is really a hand squeezing and giggles surround our words. Some nights I imagine Jesus joining in the fun, and other times I need to remind the boys that we are actually inviting the Lord to our table and they need to be a bit more respectful, but always we will be
The family that prays together
because, with five boys, the chances of us staying together physically are slim, but our shared prayer, our breaking of bread together will link us spiritually in the one Body of Christ until we are reunited physically in Heaven.
For readings from Sunday, May 4th, 2014, please click here.
For our story of that Sunday Mass, read, Late For Mass, But Lookin’ Good!