Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.” (John 21:12)

Such a simple phrase. Come, have breakfast. Words from everyday life. In the Gospel of John, when Jesus appears after the resurrection, he doesn’t tell the apostles to fall to their knees and cling to his robes. He tells them to tuck into a good meal. He doesn’t come back on the tail of a comet, demanding homage and penance. He shows up on the beach and asks his friends to join him for breakfast.

It’s an endearing story, rich in Eucharistic symbolism. But might it also be practical? According to a study by a team of Dutch and Canadian psychologists, “social interactions during a meal were more positive in terms of how people felt, behaved, and perceived others.” Jesus was using the ultimate icebreaker.

Psychologist Susan Krauss Whitbourne says coming together for a meal is one of the best and easiest ways to improve your relationship. “The simple act of eating a meal together may be all it takes to bring you and your partner to an emotionally better place,” she writes.

Across all meal-sharing conditions, compared to all other social interactions, the preponderance of data showed that participants felt both more agreeable, more pleasant, and less dominant and submissive (in other words, the power dynamics were negated). Not only did they feel that they were behaving more agreeably, but participants sharing a meal also felt better about their partners.

So set the table, and invite your beloveds to come and eat.