The disciples of Jesus had come to recognize him in the breaking of bread. When the disciples saw bread being broken, they could only think of him who had once taken bread, and broken it, and said, This is my Body. From now on, bread would be associated with the entire human life of the Lord, including his interior life. It was first broken when he did not cling to his equality with God, but emptied himself, becoming a man like us in all things except sin. This living bread was broken repeatedly in our Lord’s life, during his temptations, his rejection by the people, his agony in the garden, and finally (so to speak) his death on the Cross. Until this living bread was broken to pieces on the Cross, the disciples could not see that the fullness of the Godhead dwelt in the interior of Jesus. On the Cross, his Body was broken into as many pieces as there are disciples, and because he accepted his brokennness, the Father enabled Jesus to give the broken bread to every disciple of his, saying, This is my Body; do this in memory of Me.
The disciple is not greater than the master. If the master is living bread, we too are living bread. Christ offered his whole life, including his interior life, to the Father. In order to know what to offer to the Father, he had to know what his own interior life was like; he had to break the bread to see what was inside. As he broke the bread repeatedly throughout his life, he grew in wisdom and the knowledge of what there was in him that he could offer to the Father. He learned to know what could tempt him and offered that to the Father. He knew what it was to pray that one last piece of his life remain unbroken, and then to break it because that was the will of his Father.
Like our Lord and Master, we too are living bread, made by the Father. In order to offer our whole life, including our interior life, to the Father, we have to know what there is in us that we can offer to the Father; we have to break the bread to see what is inside, and not flinch from all the bad experiences and sins in there. And that is a grace because now we know more of what is in us, where we need to break the bread so that we can handle it and offer even our frail humanity to the Father. Then it becomes what the Prayer after Communion will call “this most holy exchange”: the Creator of man, having assumed a living body and become man, enriched us with his divinity.
This breaking of living bread is not the work of a moment, of one Holy Communion. It is a life-long process for the disciple, just as it was for the master. But if we break ourselves open repeatedly, as Jesus did, the process will not end in brokenness. In the end, we will discover that all along, it was not the disciple but the master who had been breaking the bread. Our eyelids will close on our broken bodies, but they will open on eternity, and we will recognize the Lord Jesus in the final breaking of bread.