Bread of Life
By Lisa Fernandes
In our Lord’s Prayer Jesus taught us to say “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6.11). At the Last Supper Jesus said “Take and eat; this is my body” (Matthew 26:26). And the name of Jesus’ birthplace, Bethlehem, literally translates as house of bread. Bread is mentioned many times in the Bible, at least 492 times in the original text. Why bread? Bread has long been an essential part of life. A recent article detailed an archaeological find in northeastern Jordan from 14,400 years ago suggesting humans were making plant-based bread thousands of years before agriculture. I literally break bread every Friday with my family when we get together for dinner. I also recently started baking bread. I find it a mindful experience and fulfilling especially when I do the kneading by hand – and it is special because it is for my family. In the first reading we hear the children of Israel on their Exodus en route to the promised land, complaining that they should have stayed home where they had their fill of bread. The Lord responds by saying to Moses: “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day” (Exodus 16.4). God delivers the bread the next morning as nourishment called manna thus fulfilling his promise. So bread in this way is a renewing of the physical body. The second reading tells us that we have to rejuvenate ourselves with the spirit of the mind: as Jesus says …”to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to cloth yourselves with the New Man, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 23-24). Here Jesus talks about bread not only as physical but spiritual food. In the Gospel reading the theme of the bread of life continues. Bread is transformed from physical to spiritual as Jesus says: “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6.35). And of course after the Gospel, during the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the purely physical bread becomes transubstantiated into the body of Christ.
Sunday’s Readings: Jeremiah 23.1-6 Psalm 23 Ephesians 2.13-18 Mark 6.30-34