Be bread for one another

By | August 6, 2009

There are all kinds of bread that help to sustain our lives: premium gold white bread, bagel, Jamaican hard dough bread, black

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Bishop Robert Morneau

olive ciabatta, small white bloomer with poppy seeds and the list goes on. But as a Christian people, we turn to Jesus, who is the bread of life. By participating in his life we come to know the peace and joy of fullness of being.

Elijah was given a hearth cake and a jug of water on his journey. Depressed and wanting to die, Elijah experienced, through an angel, the gift of life by means of food and drink. But it was more than hearth cake and water that brought hope into Elijah’s heart. It was the presence of God who touched Elijah’s soul and gave him courage to go on living and the desire to do God’s will.

St. Paul knew that Jesus was the bread of life. It was in Christ that St. Paul received the gift of the Holy Spirit and the mission to evangelize the world. Paul’s message is clear and direct: “Christ loves us!” That love is our food and our drink; that love gives us hope and enthusiasm; that love is the gift of the Spirit. Thus, we give life to others by being kind and compassionate and mutually forgiving. We are to put away all those attitudes and behaviors that bring death: bitterness, anger, harsh words, slander and malice. We are to be bread for one another.

Jesus made the claim that he had come down from heaven, sent by the Father, to bring life. Indeed, our self-giving God is offered to us in the person of Christ, the bread of life. If we partake of his life, we shall live forever. Death, will have no power over us. Not surprisingly, the people found this claim difficult to accept. How could an infinite God stoop to becoming one of us and giving himself through a meal and a sacrifice, the Eucharist?

The Greek novelist, Nikos Kazantzakis writes: “What a miracle life is and how alike are all souls when they send their roots down deep and meet and are one.” Life is a miracle: our physical, psychological and spiritual life. More, the Eucharist that sustains us is a miracle, for we believe that the bread and wine consecrated during the Mass truly is the person of Jesus. And when we receive the Lord with attentiveness and love, we can experience an incredible unity with all humankind. For in Christ, we are made one.

Evelyn and James Whitehead maintained: “The Christian Gospels and Freudian theory agree that effective adult living consists in the abilities to love well and work well.” Surely the Christian life involves loving well both our God and one another. That Christian life also involves the naming and exercising of our gifts, that is, working well. God has a plan for us and we are to use our gifts responsibly for the building of the Kingdom and the amelioration of the world.

We all know the expression: “It’s a matter of life or death!” Bread and water are a matter of life or death for all of us. That is true both on the physical and spiritual level. Every day thousands of people die because they lack sufficient drink and food. Every year thousands die spiritually because they do not know where to go to be nourished.

Jesus is the bread come down from heaven. To receive him is to already begin a participation in eternal life. To receive him is a mandate to be life for others, their food and drink.

Questions for reflection

1. How deeply do you appreciate the gift of life?

2. How can you be food and drink for others?

3. What meaning does the Eucharist hold for you?

 

Bishop Morneau is the auxiliary bishop of the Green Bay Diocese and pastor of Resurrection Parish in Allouez.

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