A photograph of a family member or dear friend is more than a piece of paper. At a particular moment and place, light from the subject of the photo entered a camera. Then after a complex process using the camera, computers, and printer it is transferred to the paper.
You handle the photo with care, because as a result of this complicated process the photographic paper contains a unique reference to your loved one.
If you show the picture to a friend it would be crazy for you to say “look at this nice piece of paper!” You would mention the name of the person on the photo, and possibly the circumstance under which the portrait came to be taken. Many family photos are associated with a graduation ceremony, or a wedding, or some other significant event in the ongoing life of the family. The photo is far more than a mere piece of paper, as it is able to bring a person and a treasured memory into focus again for us.
When we celebrate Holy Communion we expose an ordinary piece of bread, to the words and actions that Jesus used at the Last Supper. Just as most of us could never explain all the intricacies of how a photo is transferred to an image on paper, so we are not able to explain what actually takes place in that sacred act of remembrance in the Eucharist.
Suffice to say that something of the great sacrifice made by Our Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross, and something of his living presence through the Resurrection are conveyed wonderfully and mysteriously in the sacrament. I am content to know that when the words of Consecration are said over the bread and wine as Jesus himself commanded us to do, what we see and hold and consume is so much more than just bread and wine.