Thursday, April 7, 2011
Bread of Life
Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven.’ They were saying, ‘Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, “I have come down from heaven”?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Do not complain among yourselves. No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, “And they shall all be taught by God.” Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.’ John 6:41-51
There is something about bread that is powerful to all people. I learned to bake bread from my mother. At one time in our lives she made loaves upon loaves of bread, and they were set aside for rising all over the house. One particularly warm closet was a great spot for rising. Bread dough needs attention, and one has to get gooey up to the elbows sometimes to make a great loaf. I would always take off my rings and bracelets, if I was wearing them, before baking. And my children could tell, from the telephone alone, if I had been baking, as it would be covered by dried dough. Bread is a very visceral thing, a very living and interactive substance. Bread demands attention and tender care and also gives great joy and sustenance for living. Warm bread can put even the crankiest of people in a good mood. Bread communicates so many rich and wonderful memories, and invites participation in the fullness of life.
Jesus tells his detractors that he is the bread of life. He tells them he is the substance of sustenance, the source of strength and renewal. They are offended because of the intimacy of this statement. And yet, all of us can resonate immediately with the picture that Jesus draws. It is an image that we can understand today, even in our digital, texting-of-life age. We can close our eyes and see the bread which satisfies, that which sustains us and renews us. Too often, the communion wafers we receive at church pale in comparison to this image that Christ gives us. And yet, Jesus tells us all that he feeds us and renews us and brings us all the gifts of love from God.
Today, I want to rejoice that there is a never-ending source of renewal energy and love from God. This source is free to all and willing to be broken so that we might live and thrive, both now and forever. May I remember today, that when my body or soul is hungry, there is Jesus, who has offered his all so that I might live abundantly. May we share the bread we have today with others, knowing that in so doing, we share God's love for the world with the world.