Even earthly bread, if received with thanksgiving, is food for the heart.
It joins us in fellowship and sustains not just our bodies, but something of our spirits too because of the love that it expresses. Yes – bread reveals the love of the one who provided it. This love is more important than the nutrients it contains. If this is true of earthly gifts, how much more heavenly bread?
God told Adam that he would need to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow among the thorns and thistles. Adam for his part suffered the labor for love of Eve and their children. So too God loves us – and suffers for us. God rained down manna for heaven when his people found themselves most in need of his providence. Christ said that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. His bread was to do the will of the Father. He also declared that He himself is the bread of life. The Word of the Father is given as food for the heart.
The Word of the Father is given as food for the heart.
From ancient times, the father of a family would break the bread and give it to the members of the household around his table. The offering of Melchizedek is a revelation of divine fatherhood, the paternal love that God has for humanity. This is what this mysterious priest mediated to Abraham, father of many nations, when he made that ancient sacrificial bread offering. Christ fulfills this mediation and endows these ancient cultic acts of taking, blessing, breaking, and distributing. He foreshadows this mystery in the multiplication of the loaves, He discloses its significance in his Bread of Life discourse. He establishes these actions in Him the night before He died. He seals their meaning with the offering of his body and blood on the Cross. The power of what he has entrusted to humanity opens eyes on the road to Emmaus. Hearts filled with fear and doubt are set ablaze with love.
The Eucharist, the great thanksgiving, feeds the heart what it most needs. Without hope, the heart shrivels. The inevitability of death haunts our existence and crushing circumstances can cause us to lose our way. Something in us goads against death even as its alienating power threatens all that is most dear to us. How do we find our standing when our hearts are weak? Yet, God does not wish us to perish – so He feeds us with the Word of the Father, and our hearts, filled with new and eternal meaning, find strength to love again.
Image: Paolo da San Leocadio, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
This post was originally published on Beginning to Pray and is reprinted here with permission.