Companion is literally defined as bread-fellow, from the Latin “com” which translates “with” and “panis” which translates “bread.” Travelers with bread, people united through bread. Think of folks walking a road, on a daily sojourn perhaps through a woodland path, or journeying through a city street. What a better food to be accompanied by than a loaf of bread, a basic source of essential nutrition to fuel travelers on a trek, a parcel easily carried in need of nothing more. It is a staple of life, for either a daily walk, or sustain a village over a harsh winter. It is called the staff of life , and nearly every nation in Christendom has developed its signature form. Travelers with bread; Companions. “Take this, all of you, and eat it: this is my body which has been given up for you.”
The bread of life, the Eucharist, is the source of our life as Christians. It is what sustains us on our journey. We are travelers with bread, Companions. That bread, the body and blood of our Lord and savior, has been given to us by Christ for our salvation. It is more than a meal, it is salvation. That communion has been given to us both by his words at the last supper, and through His sacrifice upon a cross. It is both a meal and a sacrifice. There is more though, Jesus’s passion does not end on a cross. It continues through His resurrection. When Jesus says “Take this all of you and eat it: this is my body which has been given up for you” that one sacrifice allows us the grace of the Eucharist through eternity by his resurrection. We witness that resurrection every time the Host is held above the chalice of His blood and those words are recited. “Take this all of you,” ” this is my body.”
It is through the initiation if the Eucharist at the Last Supper that many find the easiest comparison to the Communion of today, that Holy Thursday is the model for the Mass, and is one reason the Eucharist gains emphasis as a meal. Some erroneously neglect the sacrifice on the cross and refer to the table of the Lord in substitute for the altar of His sacrifice. The Eucharist is both, it is meal and sacrifice. Nutrition and Redemption.
In thinking of the initiation of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, I can also think of that meal celebrated at all the suppers before that day. Those meals are the multiplication of the loaves where he feeds the crowds. It is at that discourse that Jesus declares “ I am the bread of life.” Those who partake in His meal, are united through Him, and enter into His covenant; the new and everlasting covenant. That bread and wine are a meal, and our redemption, and also our entry into His covenant. It is the meal that unites Christians to form His mystical body. What s better way to travel through life than with bread? The bread of eternal life. ” This is my body which has been given up for you.” Companions, travelers with bread.