Kenotic meals

Eating is as basic as you can get of things which constitutes you as human. Nevertheless, having meals is also a form of political action. Who you eat with will indicate what your social class is. In general, we eat with whom we know. It indicates who we can get along with. It indicates who we are and who can be our friends. To put it negatively, we don’t want to share table with those whom we don’t like, with those whom we think are not worthy to drink teh peng with us. It is perhaps so “natural” to do so, but I guess Jesus will want to have nothing to do with it, as he eats with literally all sorts of people. If we form our identity by eating and whom we eat with, Jesus certainly loses his as he opens his life for all people — sinners and Pharisees alike.

Nevertheless, paradoxically, by forming ours we lose it, and by losing his he retrieves it back. Identity is thus construed not as a self-forming enterprise, but as a perpetual self-giving act. For Jesus, “though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality of God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross.” (Phil 2.6-8) The bread is broken and meant to be eaten and shared by everyone.

And that’s why what the Corinthians did was so scandalous to Paul (1 Cor 11.17-34). They reinforced the “natural” meaning of meals, as the rich ate with the rich and, as a result, the poor ate with the poor — if they have anything to eat at all. For Jesus, and Paul, this is bullshit, as he has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, which we erect as humans toward each other along the social, racial, whatever line, and yet we are rebuilding the dividing wall again! “What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter!” (1 Cor 11.22) To be an antichrist does not require you to wage war against Christ. It only requires you to refuse eating with those you can’t get along with. It only requires you to refuse sharing table with those who hates you or whom you hate. It only requires you to refuse breaking bread with strangers and those who are “different” from yourself.


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