Today’s Gospel: John 6:35-40
There is something so delightful about freshly baked bread! Its warmth and aroma make us feel nourished in body and spirit. Its tawny color reminds us of the earth it came from, and when we bite into it, its chewy texture makes us work to reap its nutritive powers. Bread is a staple food, “a food eaten regularly and in such quantities that it constitutes a dominant portion of a standard diet in a given population (Wikipedia). Depending on your family background, your particular staple could be rice or beans, corn or potatoes or any number of other foods. In earlier times when wide varieties of nutrition sources were not available, the staple was an important part of survival. It kept for longer periods, was inexpensive and easily prepared. Even a drink could be a staple. The builders of the ancient pyramids were paid in a thick, syrupy beer which was like liquid bread: “they drank their bread.”*
When Jesus calls himself “The Bread of Life” in today’s gospel, it’s like saying “I am the staple of Life.” If we partake of Jesus—his Word, his presence, his Eucharist, his Spirit, his Teachings—we will live:
“For this is the will of my Father,
that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him
may have eternal life,
and I shall raise him on the last day.”
When we eat the earthly staple, we live another day. When we eat the heavenly staple, Jesus, we live the Eternal Day. This teaches us of the joy of the Paschal Season.
Our joy is Jesus himself. What consoling words we find in the gospel today! ‘You will never hunger or thirst, I will not reject or lose anyone the Father gives me; I shall raise you up on the last day.’
When he calls himself “the bread of life,” Jesus reminds us that only God can satisfy our ultimate longings. We may think, “Jesus is God, too far above me, my redeemer, but not… my Friend, Confidante, Brother… my very Bread!” However, the saints of our tradition were well acquainted with Jesus in this way. They saw the Lord as always with them, the fulfillment of all their longings, the truest of friends and the most faithful.
This gospel invites us to intimacy with the Lord. What can be more personal and intimate than what you put in your mouth? This is the beauty of the Eucharist, each time we gather at the Eucharistic table, we are called to a renewed intimacy with the Lord.
What is one new way I can make Jesus my staple today?
Risen Lord, Bread of Life, feed us with you. Do not lose us, for the Father has given us to you.
Copyright 2014 Julie Paavola