Fr. Rusty's Corner

Turn Four: Thoughts from Your Parish Priest

"Our Daily Bread"

             

How appropriate is it that as we are celebrating Thanksgiving that we reflect on the daily bread of the Lord’s prayer?   What is this bread that we are asking for daily?  Is it bread to feed us?  Is it some kind of spiritual bread?  Or can it mean all the above? 

              First, the bread can stand for our need for food every day.  The Lord provides the fruits of the field and the rains to aid their growth.  We need the Lord so that we may have daily food.  From this perspective, we become humble before the Lord.  We empty ourselves and become poor in renouncing our need of the world and surrender to God providing for us.  This does not mean that we should not work and earn a living so we may buy food, rather it is meant to cause us to recognize even as we work and earn money and buy our food that God some way or another provided the means for us to have the food to eat.

              Second, the bread can mean the Word of God.  St. Thomas Aquinas notes from Scripture that Christ tells the devil that “man cannot live on bread alone, but by every word from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).  The petition in the Lord’s Prayer is a metaphor for our hunger for the saving word of God, and how our need for the word to show us the path of life.  God’s voice to us shows us the path to eternal life.  From this perspective, we rise above the needs of the material world and realize the food we need for salvation.

               Finally, the bread points to a combination of the first two in the sacramental food of the Eucharist.  The Eucharist is physical food that nourishes us, but is simultaneously the food of salvation.  Every day in our Church, Mass is celebrated and we can receive this living bread that came down from heaven.  As Christ states in John’s Gospel, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world” (John 6:51).  To not confuse his listeners (or readers) the word for eat can be translated into “gnawing or chewing”, emphasizing that this bread is not just a spiritual reality.  It is literally physical food to eat.  The Eucharist is our Lord in the flesh offering himself so we may live the divine life in us.  We have life because of Him who gave His life for us.  The fullest sense of daily bread is found in the Eucharist.

             Daily bread points to multiple levels of realities of the nourishment we need for eternal life:  physical food to live in this world to progress to the next, the metaphorical word of God that we seek to live our lives by, and ultimately the Eucharist that is physical foot that feeds us for eternal life.  The Sacrament is the fulfillment of the daily bread at every Mass celebrated every day.  Let us seek this daily bread so we may have the food of eternal life.

- Fr. Rusty Vincent


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