So here I was at mass today when I heard the Gospel acclamation echoing Jesus in John 6:35 “I am the Bread of Life.” The theme of this year’s Lenten retreat was based on Matthew 4:4 which centered on Jesus’ response to satan’s temptation when he said “Man does not live on bread alone.” Now here I was again being reminded of the Kingdom revival conference I had attended some weeks ago which talked about the importance of bread in Scripture. It was an amazing message and mass today has prompted to share some points herein.
WHAT IS BREAD
The speaker started out by explaining that all cultures have bread and that the whole Chapter 6 of the Gospel of John is dedicated to bread. Indeed it is in this chapter that we see the great schism between Catholics and non-Catholics surrounding the interpretation of Jesus’ words – “This is my body” and “this is my blood,” thus distinguishing the doctrines of transubstantiation and consubstantiation.
He explained that the first mention of bread was in Genesis 3:19 when God cursed Man and said that he would henceforth eat bread by the sweat of his brow. He also mentioned that it was no coincidence that Jesus was born in Bethlehem which means House of Bread and that Jesus called Himself the Bread of Life. In the miracle of the loaves, he explained that Jesus revealed His divinity as the bread was multiplied and that through that miracle, faith was built in that God-shaped hole that only God can fill.
I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE…EAT MY FLESH
He also referred to the notion of cannibalism seen in Jesus’ words in John 6:53 that whoever eats of His flesh shall live, which caused the disciples to abandon Him in John 6:66. He pointed out that God can sometimes offend your mind to reveal your heart just like he offended the vast number of followers who left Jesus in John 6:61. This offence by God of the mind is one which I have found difficult to accept, as I often find myself seeking to understand the ways of God which can be seen as unacceptable, harsh and non-compromising, but as they say the truth is bitter and it can be a bitter pill to swallow indeed.
GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD
The reference to the Lord’s Prayer where Jesus teaches us to pray by saying “Give us this day our DAILY bread” is also instructive. I have often heard people who say “Give us THESE DAYS our DAILY bread” and I cringe at the misconception of the prayer. The whole essence to me of this part of the prayer has always been to take things one step at a time and to leave the rest to God, so by saying “THESE days”, the essence has been lost on me. One day at a time is enough, as God will supply the needs of the next day when day breaks at dawn.
In addition, the speaker shed another light by pointing out that the word “DAILY” has 32 translations and it should not be interpreted in a repetitive way. He explained that it would be akin to saying “Give us today’s bread today” and so the original translation is most likely to be from the word “epiousios” and using the Syriac translation being the closest to Aramaic which Jesus spoke. This is translated to mean “Give us the bread that is more than enough;” or “the bread that won’t ever finish”. Upon further research, I discovered that the Catholic Latin Vulgate version of the Bible translates this phrase to be “give us this day our supersubstantial bread” which is reflective of the supernatural nature of the bread which changes into the body of Christ at the Eucharist. So when next we say that part of the Lord’s prayer let us look beyond the daily supply and ask also for the supernatural bread that is more than enough and never runs out.
TURN STONES INTO BREAD
The speaker focused on Jesus’ reply to satan and stressed the personal relationship Jesus had with God the Father and the loving attitude of God seen in John 11:11-13 to give His Holy Spirit to those who ask for it. He stressed that we have to love God with His love and not ours, since our love is not good enough. He went further to say that this meant turning your attention to God and explained that anything taking away your time from God is a stone. Satan is in the business of turning stones into bread to deceive us. He warned against deception by the enemy who will try to make you eat stone leading you to think that you are full with nutrients when what you are filling yourself with is actually superficial and you are in fact focusing on that which is taking you further from God. He urged us to activate our lives and receive the Bread of Life which is full of all good things and all the nutrients we need.
BREAKING & SHARING BREAD TOGETHER
There is just something special about breaking bread in fellowship and the speaker stated that we need to start breaking bread with each other. For just as the loaves were multiplying as they were being broken and just as Jesus is the Living Water which never runs dry, so will we be ever-filled as we share bread with one another in love. This speaks to me of not only sharing the Word with one another but also sharing food in hospitality. He urged us to get out of the boat of Jonah and speak life and share the Bread of Life to people, as we too are called to evangelize to the ends of the earth. Indeed on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24:30-31, the disciples only recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread and were filled with passion to spread the good news of His resurrection to all who cared to listen.
Jesus is indeed the Bread of Life and it is my prayer that as we journey in life, we turn to Him for the supersubstantial bread which is more than enough and never runs dry. As we dig deeper into His Word and break bread in fellowship, may we be one with Him and make Him known to the ends of the earth for others to feast and experience the miracle of multiplication. This is my prayer through Christ our Lord in Jesus mighty Name. Amen.