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The Magic Story

“And it was right then,” the old man continued, “that I saw magic.”
You could feel the room grow quiet.  Even people who knew what was coming couldn’t wait to hear it again.

“I saw it.  Real honest-to-God magic.  Not the sleight-of-hand we’ve all seen at parties.  I’m talking about actual magic.  No fooling.  Something that’s just downright impossible.  But, I saw it.  Saw it with my own two eyes.”

You could have heard a pin drop.  Everyone held their breath, waiting to hear the rest of the story.

“The man was sitting right across from me.  No further than I am from you.”  He pointed to one of the teenagers sitting on the floor. 

“Well, you’ve got to know that real magic doesn’t come with light or smoke or a big bang.  You are just looking right at something that’s as ordinary as can be and then, you no more than blink, and it’s already happened.  It takes a second or two for your brain to catch up to what your eyes just saw.”

He knew he was stretching the story out a little too far.  He could feel the growing impatience as everyone leaned almost imperceptibly forward.  It was time for the big climax.

“And so, the guy just reached down, picked up the bread, said the words, and then…magic.  That’s when I looked up and saw him.  Plain as day.  Sitting right there.  For a second, I was too surprised to move or say anything.” 

“And then, just like that,” the old man snapped his fingers, “He disappeared.”

“Where’d he go?” one of the girls in the back blurted out before she could stop herself. 

“Go?” the old man smiled. “Did I say go?  He didn’t go anywhere.  I just said he disappeared.”

“But… So you’re saying he was still there?”

“He was still there.  I was looking right at him.”

“But you said he disappeared.”  There were murmurs and nods.  It didn’t make any sense.

Then one of the mothers who’d been listening said out loud the thought that came to her.  “It was the bread!  You were looking at the bread.”

The old man smiled.  It was usually a woman who figured it out first.  “Yes, it was the bread.  I could see him.  See him right there in front of me.  He was hiding in plain sight in that broken loaf of bread on the table.”

“The words,” someone pleaded.  “Tell us the words he said.  Just before the magic.”

“He had lifted up the bread, broke it, and then said, ‘This is my body.’  Those were the words.”

The old man’s Latin wasn’t that great.  But, it was good enough to tell a story he’d told hundreds of times.  The story about the man and the bread and the words. 

Hoc est corpus meum. This is my body

He knew his accent probably made hoc est corpus sounded more like hocus pocus.  But that’s how it happened.  He'd been witness to magic.

The Only Son.  Eternally begotten.  True God of true God.  And, now, he had told them all the story of how this very Jesus was made known to him in the breaking of bread.  The story was done.  Cleopas knew it was all about to happen again.  It was time for Communion.

Luke 24:30-35

And, by the way, the expression hocus-pocus as a synonym for magic did evolve from "this is my body" or "the body of Christ" (hoc est corpus Christi) as it was used in the Medieval Latin mass in England.

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