Sunday, April 5, 2020

The Easter Day Meal

For additional thoughts on Easter, click on the Liturgical Calendar tab above as well as individual texts in the scripture indices.

It was on the night of Easter day that Jesus surprised two travelers returning to Emmaus from Jerusalem (Luke 24:13-35). But in the Diego Velazquez painting shown here, that story is (literally) in the background. At the left of the composition, visible on the other side of a window or pass-through, Jesus sits at table with two people (one is visibly present only through a gesturing hand), bread in his hand and a halo behind his head. Presumably the visible halo signals that Jesus has been made known to his companions.

But that really is just background.
Diego Velazquez. Kitchen Maid with the Supper at Emmaus. 1617-1618. Dublin: National Gallery of Ireland.
The main subject is the Moorish kitchen worker. Even as the Emmaus pilgrims are finding their world turned upside down, the worker in the kitchen continues to work. There is no change for that worker. Tintoretto's version of the Last Supper at San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice, shows servants preparing the meal and even doing the dishes in the room where all manner of supernatural things are happening. Someone had to make the meals, serve them, and clean up afterward.

Will the servant in Velazquez' painting learn what the men learned at the table? Will the servant be able to partake of the resurrection promised through Jesus Christ? It all depends on what Jesus' traveling companions do with the experience they had when bread was broken. How and with whom will they share the risen Christ?

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