A baguette, with its crisp crust and soft, chewy centre…naan, lightly grilled, slightly sweet…bannock, tortilla, rice cake, scone, sweet roll, dark rye, golden egg, good-for-you 12 grain with soy, gluten-free…the breads, day to day ordinary breads, of the world! Is it surprising, that, with the reality of almost every culture relying on some form of bread for basic sustenance, Jesus identified himself as the ‘bread of life’? “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” John 6:35.
Nourishment, both physical and spiritual, are indeed from God. But physical sustenance is fleeting; people eat, only to become hungry again…a teenager, less than ½ hour after dinner, is found standing at the fridge door! When Jesus tells us that we will never be hungry, never be thirsty, our Lord does not mean that we’ll never want a good dinner or a nice cup of tea, or a slice of chocolate mousse cake again. Nor is this a holier-than-anyone comment on worldwide poverty. The symbolism is that of the spiritual nourishment of one’s relationship with God. “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever…” John 6:50 If we feel that we are not being ‘fed’ it may be because we just don’t want to taste what is offered or choose to reject it as less than ‘gourmet’.
Jesus Himself is bread for our souls, wholesome and life-giving. This is the bread that satisfies the hunger for meaning, for love, for God; a hunger that is all too keenly felt in our own backyard, as the drive to be busier, to have more material things, and so on, marks our society. Jesus is the bread of Eucharist, lying in our outstretched hands, simple and yet full of mystery as we, with open hearts, pray to receive Him. We take the bread of communion, the Body of Christ, we share in the cup of wine, the Blood of Christ, and we are fed, strengthened, reenergized and readied to serve, as we are called.
We break the bread of life and that life is the light of the world.
God here among us, light in the midst of us, bring us to light and life.
The gifts of God for the People of God…
Recipe: Plain Irish Soda Bread Oven at 425 degrees.
4 cups all purpose flour (can substitute 1/2 of the regular flour with whole wheat);1-3 Tablespoons sugar; 1 teaspoon baking soda; 1 teaspoon baking powder; 1/2 teaspoon salt; 2 cups buttermilk (you can buy powdered buttermilk and reconstitute it with water and it works well in this recipe)
In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, baking soda and salt. Add flour. Make a well in middle of the flour, and add buttermilk all at once. Use your hands to mix buttermilk into flour to form a soft dough. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Lightly knead the dough a few times to make a smooth loaf. Place loaf onto parchment-lined or greased baking sheet. With sharp knife, score a large ‘+’ on the top of the dough. (The sign of the Cross; “It lets the devil out”, an Irish grandmother might say…and allows the centre to cook more evenly!) Bake for about 35 minutes. The loaf is done when lightly browned and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Options: add currents or other dried fruit. Serve warm with butter and maybe honey or warm maple syrup. Also makes nice toast but eat it quickly as it doesn’t age well.