It may lose something in literal translation, but I would bet that the experience of comfort food is universal. A meal, a dish, possibly prepared by a particular individual which brings with it not only the comfort of being fed, warm food on a cold empty stomach, but also elicits the warmth of memories of times past and the reassurance of healing and strength in times to come.
We Americans speak of comfort food – maybe meat loaf and mashed potatoes or mac-n-cheese ideal for a damp and drizzly evening or homemade soup and dense crusty bread on a cold blustery day. Often families have traditional meals served in times of grief and mourning. A favorite treat meal in times of healing. Each nationality, each cultural, each region, each family celebrates, honors certain events and times with specific meals. There is nothing universally significant about the dish itself. The memories evoked and the relationships attached to the dish or meal give it significance. Comfort food is a symbol of the comfort and consolation experienced in the sharing of a particular meal in the midst of true companionship and intimate relationship.
We can only imagine the number of times Jesus and his beloved disciples shared a meal of fresh fish cooked over an open fire. The fruits of their labor shared in the intimacy of their relationship. On seeing the figure on the shore, they did not need to ask “Who are you?” They knew in their hearts who he was. He called them “children’, he invited them to “come have breakfast.” He fed them the comfort meal of open-fire roasted catch of the day. Again, we can only imagine the consolation, comfort and reassurance these men and women experienced as Jesus took the bread and fish, and gave it to them in a way that only he could – as he had done so many times before. Consolation, comfort and reassurance filled their hearts at a time when they least expected it. They were in grief and mourning for their beloved Jesus who was no longer with them – or so they thought.
During this joyful Easter season, let us be open to the unexpected presence of the risen Lord. Let us pray for those who hunger for essential nourishment, and for those who hunger for the Spirit of comfort, consolation, and reassurance.
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