The mother in feeding the baby gives her life to the baby and in the process she gets emaciated. Who more than a mother can say this is my body this is my blood given to you. The “Take and eat, take and drink” of the Eucharistic of the calumniation, compassionate invitation to hungry crowds and famished individuals. Together with strong hunger for food there is also a hunger for the food of recognition, inclusion, equality, and acceptance. Earth is the great altar and the bread is made up of humanities especially women who are in agony, exploitation, marginalization and pained. Kneaded with the flour together with the million tear-drop shed every day for a woman who long for a new heaven and new earth for freedom and equality.
Cyrilla Chakalakal reflects on “Food, Memory Hunger: Women and Eucharist.” She observes that a baby eats right away. We are conscious of the ingredients we eat and of forced labor. The Eucharist sums up all the tears and injustice that happens in this world and the community, united them of the sacrifice of Jesus and praying for healing and the Reign of God.
Food is memory. The cosmic memory of the earth is seen in the genetic code of life, with the land holding the cognizance of the 10 million years of life. Learning from Hinduism, Cyrilla shares that there is the sacred in the secular and secularity in the sacred: everything is connected. The food cycle is our complete memory. Food is eating, eating is remembering. The memory of food is stored in different parts of the body. The memory of the earth is marvelous. Food (annam) can be understood as Brahman who is food. Food which is not digested cannot be food. Brahman as food is never exhausted. There is moreover, a sacramental character to food: Food is never mere food. It feeds the body and the spirit. Food like sacrifice is an anthropocosmic activity. Hunger is defined in the dictionary as uneasy sensation. If God were to come again, God would come again in the form of food. Hunger drives history, and the poor spend their life in frantic pursuit of the next meal.
Connecting Hinduism to Christian tradition, Cyrilla reflects on how the multiplication story shows that Jesus values food. Bread is bread only in communion. How are we stewards of creation? Looking upon the Divine, bread symbolizes the cosmic process of self-giving or kenosis. The plant surrenders itself so that many other plants are born. Bread dies in order to transfer life blood. One who eats the bread has to become bread for others. Our bread contains blood of the exploited; it has lost its naturalness, it is profit-oriented and causes destruction with cutthroat competition and death instead of communion. Wherever kenosis takes place, there is the Eucharist.
Reflecting on the Human, Cyrilla highlights experiences of sweat, love and pain, exploitation and hope, of a mother serving the family. Take and eat, take and drink.
The presentation is concluded with a consideration of challenges ahead. The Earth is the great altar. Bread is humanity’s especially women’s agony, exploitatuon, marginalization, suffering, tears. There is a longing for new heaven and new earth, for freedom and equality. How can we help? Our celebration of Eucharist tends to be too cut off from reality and concentrate more on grace, heaven, and eternal life without sufficient reference to the human beings and his/her situation. How can we be more creative and make our Eucharist celebration more meaningful? For Cyrilla, “The Eucharist unites; doctrines divide.”