Tag Archives: Bread

Christ Withdrew to the Desert

“Christ Withdrew to the Desert”
A reflection on Matthew 14:13
Monday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns. When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said, “This is a deserted place and it is already late; dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.” He said to them, “There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves.” But they said to him, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.” Then he said, “Bring them here to me,” and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over—twelve wicker baskets full. Those who ate were about five thousand men, not counting women and children.

Matthew 14:13-21

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The Lord of the Sabbath

“The Lord of the Sabbath”
A reflection on Matthew 12:1-8
Friday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

The Father’s “house of bread” includes the tabernacle (where David fled in Nob), the cosmic tabernacle containing wheat (the Sabbath crowns creation on the seventh day in Genesis), and Jesus himself (the “bread of life” born in Bethlehem which means “house of bread”).

At that time Jesus was going through a field of grain on the sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “See, your disciples are doing what is unlawful to do on the sabbath.” He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry, how he went into the house of God and ate the bread of offering, which neither he nor his companions but only the priests could lawfully eat? Or have you not read in the law that on the sabbath the priests serving in the temple violate the sabbath and are innocent? I say to you, something greater than the temple is here. If you knew what this meant, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned these innocent men. For the Son of Man is Lord of the sabbath.”

Matthew 12:1-8

David went to Ahimelech, the priest of Nob, who came trembling to meet him. He asked, “Why are you alone? Is there no one with you?” David answered the priest: “The king gave me a commission and told me, ‘Do not let anyone know anything about the business on which I have sent you or the commission I have given you.’ For that reason I have arranged a particular meeting place with my men. Now what do you have on hand? Give me five loaves, or whatever you can find.” But the priest replied to David, “I have no ordinary bread on hand, only holy bread; if the men have abstained from women, you may eat some of that.” David answered the priest: “We have indeed stayed away from women. In the past whenever I went out on a campaign, all the young men were consecrated—even for an ordinary campaign. All the more so are they consecrated with their weapons today!” So the priest gave him holy bread, for no other bread was on hand except the showbread which had been removed from before the Lord and replaced by fresh bread when it was taken away.

1 Samuel 21:2-7

Water and Word

Eucharistic Bread and Fish (Roman Catacombs)

First Week of Lent, Tuesday

Isaiah 55:10-11; Matthew 4:4b; Matthew 6:7-15 

Yet just as from the heavens
the rain and snow come down
And do not return there
till they have watered the earth,
making it fertile and fruitful,
Giving seed to the one who sows
and bread to the one who eats,
So shall my word be
that goes forth from my mouth;
It shall not return to me empty,
but shall do what pleases me,
achieving the end for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:10-11

The living word of God waters the earth and awakens seeds, gives bread to the hungry and manna to the spirit. The word proceeding from the mouth of God is “sharper than any two-edged sword,” able to create and recreate the world (Hebrews 4:12). The Voice that spoke light and life into being with a word sent forth his Word to divinize the earth.

The Word of God uncoiled the serpent with a word:

One does not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.

Matthew 4:4b

In the midst of temptation, Jesus taught us to turn to our Father:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread;
and forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors;
and do not subject us to the final test,
but deliver us from the evil one.

Matthew 6:9-13

Our Father provides daily bread for the body, mind, soul and spirit. Nourished by his Word, may we become words in the Word and bread for others by our mercy. 

Another Forty Syllables for the Forty Days of Lent:

Water from Heaven breaks and opens seeds…
Our Father speaks and from his mouth proceeds
Returning Son, crushed wheat of Calvary,
Divine Bread and seed-bearing Energy.

-GMC

Sealed by God

Christ Pantocrator, 13th century Serbian icon

Monday of the Third Week of Easter

John 6:22-29

The next day, the crowd that remained across the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not gone along with his disciples in the boat, but only his disciples had left.

John 6:22

Whoosh! Jesus vanished like the wind without leaving a trace. Gazing across the Sea of Galilee, any “footprints” would have dissolved instantly in the crashing waves.

Not that the people fed by Jesus on the mountain surmised that the rabbi walked across the sea—what utter nonsense!—though he did miraculously multiply five loaves and two fish. Who knew what else Jesus could do? Like a collective Sherlock Holmes they noted (A) only one boat had been docked, (B) Jesus had not gone in the boat with his disciples, and (C) Jesus was missing. 

Other boats came from Tiberias near the place where they had eaten the bread when the Lord gave thanks. When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into boats and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus.

John 6:23-24

A brigade of boats rowed hotly in pursuit of their bread king.

And when they found him across the sea they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”

John 6:25

Not knowing what to make of Jesus’ appearance on the other side of the sea, the baffled people skirted the question, “How did you get here?” with a superficial “When?” 

Genuine, disinterested wonder in the marvels and person of Jesus was lacking in the crowd. Rather, impelled by fickle appetites, they chased him down for another free meal.  

Jesus answered them and said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. 

John 6:26

Signs point beyond themselves to an imperishable good beyond the fleeting undulations of hunger and satiety. The miraculous bread of the outdoor picnic was supposed to stimulate the deepest hunger of the human spirit. 

Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.”

John 6:27

Bodily hunger necessarily drives people to work for food, but spiritual hunger is easily dulled and forgotten. Jesus presented himself, the Messianic “Son of Man,” as the very imprint of God the Father. Like an official declaration stamped and sealed (sphragizó) by the signet ring of a king, Jesus declared himself to be the very countenance and Word of God.

So they said to him, “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.”

John 6:28-29

What kind of work is “believing” (pisteuó)? In the Hebrews Hall of Fame, Enoch is praised for believing, and Abraham for his extraordinary faith and obedience (Hebrews 11:5-12). Believing is not merely a cognitive assent, but a wholehearted trust in God even when his commands are incomprehensible, as with the sacrifice of Isaac. 

The “work” of believing is exemplified by Mary, Mary Magdalene, the women disciples, and John the Beloved standing at the foot of the Cross on Calvary. Like Abraham poised to slay his son on Mount Moriah they stood, not knowing the outcome of the crucifixion three days later. 

Paul preached that believing (pisteuó) the Word of God seals (sphragizó) the children of God with the Holy Spirit, making them unique imprints and icons of the Son of God (Ephesians 1:13).

Standing with Jesus in the best and worst of times surpasses logic and reason. Faith is a relationship and commitment to a person, Jesus Christ. 

-GMC

The Bread of Christ

bread wine
Besides being one body, the Body of Christ, we are also one Bread in him. When we celebrate the Eucharist, we listen first to God’s word and then offer bread and wine. The prayer over the bread points to its meaning:

“Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the bread we offer you; fruit of the earth and work of human hands, it will become for us the bread of life.”

We receive the bread, “fruit of the earth and work of human hands,” from our Creator. St. Augustine calls the bread we pray for in the Lord’s Prayer and the bread we offer at Mass “the bread of everything.” The gift of everything is acknowledged at Mass through the bread and wine; we’re blessed with everything, we’re reminded, and through them, we give thanks to the God of goodness for it all. “What do you have that you have not received?”

The greatest of God’s blessings is Jesus Christ who, on the night before he died took bread into his hands, the “bread of everything,” and gave himself to his disciples through this sign. “Take and eat, this is my body which will be given up for you.” In a similar way, he gave them the cup of wine that signifies his blood “poured out” for us.

“Do this in memory of me,” he said.

A mystery of faith, we say in our prayer. We believe through these signs. We can’t let their humble circumstances– the place, the people, the simple acts and words dissuade us. We’re called to wonder at what’s hidden here.

LOST, ALL LOST IN WONDER
Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore,

Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,

See, Lord, at thy service low lies here a heart

Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.



Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived:

How says trusty hearing? that shall be believed;

What God’s Son has told me, take for truth I do;

Truth himself speaks truly or there’s nothing true.



On the cross thy godhead made no sign to men,

Here thy very manhood steals from human ken:

Both are my confession, both are my belief,

And I pray the prayer of the dying thief.

I am not like Thomas, wounds I cannot see,

But can plainly call thee Lord and God as he;

Let me to a deeper faith daily nearer move,

Daily make me harder hope and dearer love.

O thou our reminder of Christ crucified,

Living Bread, the life of us for whom he died,

Lend this life to me then:
feed and feast my mind,

There be thou the sweetness
man was meant to find.

Bring the tender tale true of the Pelican;

Bathe me, Jesu Lord, in what thy bosom ran—

Blood whereof a single drop has power to win

All the world forgiveness of its world of sin.

Jesu, whom I look at shrouded here below,

I beseech thee send me what I thirst for so,

Some day to gaze on thee face to face in light

And be blest for ever with thy glory’s sight. Amen.

(translation of Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.)

Loaves and Fish

Christ_feeding_the_multitude

The miracle of the loaves and the fish is one of the most important miracles in the New Testament. All four gospels recall it; Mark mentions it twice. The miracle, which  foreshadows the mystery of the Holy Eucharist, is about important aspects of the gospel message.

The miracle takes place as a crowd of people follow Jesus into a desert place and he blesses them with  nourishing bread and a meal of fish. According to the gospels, they’ve come from their homes, from different towns–some a distance away; they’ve made an effort to see him. Now they’re  tired and hungry.

Some may have come just from curiosity or because others brought them along, but Jesus doesn’t  multiply the bread and the fish to satisfy curiosity. People were hungry and needed food.

John says people came “because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick.” So, probably some of them were sick or brought their sick with them.

Mark’s gospel says the miracle happened because, on seeing the crowd, Jesus’ heart went out to them. “He had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and so be began teaching them many things.” (Mark 6,34)

“Sheep without a shepherd.” They’re looking for direction, for meaning in their lives, for a sense of who they are and what they’re about. And Jesus offers them a shepherd’s care and a teacher’s wisdom.

But they’re hungry. We shouldn’t  forget the first reason Jesus gives the crowd bread and the fish. His gospel is practical; feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, care for those in need. And what he did, he tells those who follow him to do:  “What do you have, go and see?”

Let’s not forget the practical demands of this story. At the same time, we know that the hunger Jesus addresses is more than physical hunger. All of us are looking for  more than physical food; our hunger is also for the “true bread from heaven that gives life to the world.”

Unlike other miracles Jesus worked, the miracle in the desert benefits, not just one person, it benefits all.

And so, when we come to the Eucharist, we come together to a place where “the hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.” (Psalm 145) We come to Jesus whose heart goes out to us.  Once again, he  takes bread and gives thanks. “This is my body,” he says. “Take and eat.”  This is the cup of my Blood,” he says. “Take and drink.”

And we are satisfied; we receive our Daily Bread. And from what we have, we give to others.