The Bread of Life
Anyone who bakes bread will sometimes see and taste a loaf of bread, or croissant, or cinnamon roll and wonder, "How did he (or she) do that" What's the recipe?" If this was you and the baker was to freely give you, a complete stranger, not only the recipe, but also some yeast, you might feel humble gratitude toward the giver. Recently, while trying my hand at making cinnamon rolls, using a recipe and yeast freely given to me, I thought, "How much more grateful should I feel for God's gift to man?"
Ever since the Fall of Man, I thought, men have desired to live forever, a life of unending joy. What, they have wondered, is the recipe? How should I live? What must I do? Even though, since The Fall, man didn't deserve the recipe, God sent it anyway. God sent the recipe by way of words --- the Ten Commandments, the words of the prophets. But then He went beyond that. He sent His Son to show us how to live: "In the beginning was the Word (the Second Person of the Trinity)... And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us." (John 1:1 - 14)
Jesus also spoke words, including the Beatitudes and the parables. Jesus told us that the recipe is love: love of God: "If you love me, keep my commandments," and love of neighbor, even love of one's enemy. He told us to treat others as we would Him by seeing Him in the distressing disguise of the poor: "When I was a stranger, you took me in; when I was naked, you clothed me; hungry, you gave me to eat..." Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead, to show that through Him eternal life is possible. He tells us this requires self-denial and suffering: "Take up your cross daily and follow me..." and "If they persecuted me, they will persecute you." (Luke 9:23; John 15:20) He showed us the way is the way of the cross, perhaps a martyr's death: "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." (John 12:24) The cross is the hard part of the recipe. Jesus tells us to trust Him, to "abide" (live) in Him: "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5) Then Jesus reveals Himself not just as the recipe through his words and actions, but food! "I am the bread of life. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever..." (John 6:48-51) He remains present in the Holy Eucharist through which we become incorporated mystically into His body. By joining our sufferings with His we can expiate our sins and the sins of others, and participate in His redemption: "Filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ." (Col 1:24) Through the Church and the sacraments he shows us the way and gives us the graces to follow Him. These were my ponderings, when at Benediction an antiphon was sung:
V. "You have given us bread from Heaven." R. "Full of all sweetness and delight."
I was back at the beginning. Jesus revealed himself as the "Holy Manna," the bread of eternal life! Jesus said: "I am the Way the Truth and the Life." Before He ascended into Heaven, He told His followers: "Go forth and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you..." (Mat 28:16-20) In the Parable of the Leaven (Mat 13:33 and Luke 13:20-21) we are told that we are to be the leaven (yeast) that helps bring others to Christ. St. Michael Broadcasting is following this command by bringing the Truth, the recipe for eternal life, to our viewers. Please support your station by telling others, offering to volunteer, by remembering it in your prayers, and through a financial contribution if possible. He is risen! Happy Easter!