“One does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.”
The timing of my weekly bread baking and the reading of the Gospel for today couldn’t be more apropos. While I’m writing these thoughts, the aroma of the loaf of sourdough bread baking in my oven has awakened my appetite; I wasn’t hungry before the bread started baking, but now….now I am anticipating the taste of butter on freshly baked bread. I’m counting the minutes until I can remove the bread from the oven, then I’ll count the minutes until the bread will cool enough for me to slice into it. My mouth waters at the thought of it! I’m consumed with a yearning for that bread in my oven, and no slice of store-bought bread is going to satisfy that need!
I wonder if the people who listened to Christ’s teachings on hunger and thirst for bread and water knew something of what I am feeling just now as my bread is baking? I wonder if they allowed their minds to go beyond their physical hunger and thirst into the appetite of the soul Jesus was awakening in them? They were familiar with the Old Testament’s scriptures that foreshadowed The Bread of Life that would be fulfilled in the New Covenant. They would have known the psalms and oracles from the Old Testament that we are reminded of in today’s readings. Let’s consider how from the beginning the LORD has whetted humanity’s appetite for the fulfillment of His promise in the body and blood of our Savior Jesus Christ.
The psalmist describes the faithfulness of the LORD in psalm 145 by saying, “The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.” The LORD prepared his people for the ultimate Bread from Heaven that would satisfy the hunger and thirst of their souls. The writer recalls what the ancient Israelites had learned about this heavenly food through the physical hunger they had in the dessert after escaping slavery in Egypt. The LORD poured forth manna from the heavens to satisfy their desires. He brought forth springs of fresh water from the rock to slake their thirst. In delivering them from slavery, He blessed them with the created bounty of bread and water to draw their minds beyond reality to the freedom that comes from the LORD alone.
“The eyes of all look hopefully to you,
and you give them their food in due season;
you open your hand
and satisfy the desire of every living thing.“
Then through his holy prophet Isaiah, he beckoned His people to himself as their Source of Life. A life lived in covenant with Him. The covenant that made satisfaction between God and humanity for all of time. He drew them through their physical hunger to consider the everlasting covenant that would be fulfilled in the coming of the Messiah. This God/Man would be THE Bread of Life, and the grace would be that we would recognize that our soul’s deepest hunger is satiated in Him.
Why spend your money for what is not bread;
your wages for what fails to satisfy?
Heed me, and you shall eat well,
you shall delight in rich fare.
Come to me heedfully,
listen, that you may have life.
I will renew with you the everlasting covenant,
the benefits assured to David.
Something our priest said to my husband and me near the completion of our journey to The Roman Catholic Church has come to mind as I have meditated upon the Gospel readings during these days that surround the Bread of Life Discourse that we read yesterday at Sunday’s Mass. Father Fitzpatrick said to us, “You have been hunger seeking bread and now you have found The Bread who has sought your hunger for all these years.” You see we had never been fully-satisfied with the “store-bought bread,” so to speak, that we had hoped would satisfy our deepest longings. We were left weary and malnourished, our hunger drove us to the transcendent Mystery (“to shut the mouth”) of the Triune God present in the holy sacrifice of The Mass and the Truth, Beauty and Goodness of The Faith.
Has it been that way for you, friend? Have you been trying and trying to feast on the created goods of God’s creation and the distractions of this life but still find yourself hungry? I like how Bishop Barron describes how the satisfaction in things and experiences fades away. It is like a fireworks show, bursting before us as we ooh and ahh, but fading away, leaving the sky empty. Leaving us wanting more. We are created for perfect happiness with God and that is ultimately given through the receiving of Christ’s body and blood in The Eucharist. Why settle for eating the stale bread of this life? In the celebration of The Mass the heavens open with God’s bounty of grace through the memorial of Christ Jesus sacrifice for us–pouring into our hunger, filling us with the food that lasts forever.
We still eagerly anticipate the celebration of the Mass? Do you? Do you recognize it as the source and summit of your life? Do you believe it is the only feast that will heal your malnourished soul? Do you prioritize celebrating the Mass above all the things and distractions you enjoy?
Does your spiritual appetite make your mouth water when you hear the priest pray over us the words of Christ,
“Take, eat: this is my body…Drink [from my cup] this is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
Matthew 26:27, 28
We are hunger seeking Bread, Jesus Christ is the Bread seeking our hunger!
Oh, LORD Jesus Christ you are our salvation, the source and sustenance of our lives. In consuming you we receive the peace that passes all our understanding.
We are infused with your love, mercy and faithfulness and you feed us with the fruit of your Spirit.
May we hunger and thirst for you in the holy sacrifice of the Mass!
In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.