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  • Writer's pictureImmersed in Christ

Our Future Bread

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

by Fr. David M. Knight

View readings for 16th Wednesday of Ordinary Time (A1):

Wednesday, Week 16 Ordinary Time (A1) LECTIONARY 397 (Ex 16: 1-5, 9- 15; Ps 78: 18-19, 23-24, 25-26, 27-28; Mt 13: 1-9)

Let's start with a word about our Memorial for today:

July 26 is the feast of Saints Anne (from Hannah in Hebrew, which means "grace") and Joachim, who are believed to be the parents of the Blessed Mother, although the only evidence for this is the very ancient but historically unreliable apocryphal Protoevangelium of James.

Still, the Emperor Justinian I dedicated a shrine to St. Anne in Constantinople in the sixth century, which means people had devotion to her earlier than that. The English asked and received permission to start celebrating her feast in 1382 (maybe because Richard II married Anne of Bohemia that year), and in 1584 the feast was extended to the whole Western Church. The focus of devotion is on Anne, but Joachim gets in as her spouse. Her best-known shrine on this continent is Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré in Ontario Canada.

Whether the grandparents of Jesus were actually named Anne and Joachim is unimportant. He did have grandparents, and we venerate them as Saints! Since the name Anne means "grace," it focuses us on the fact that Baptism has made us all "family" now "in Christ" - children of the Father, brothers and sisters to one another. Grace is “the gift of sharing in God's divine life”. And it is appropriate that the mother of Mary, "full of grace," through whom "the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ" came to us, should be herself named "Grace."

And here is the reflection for today's readings at Mass:

The Responsorial (Psalm 24) declares: “The Lord gave them bread from heaven.” How does God do this? Exodus 16: 1-15 may tell us where the word we translate as “daily (epiousion) bread” in the Our Father came from. Its meaning is unclear, as it is not found anywhere else in Greek. Fr. Ray Brown’s analysis concludes it means “future bread” or “bread of the morrow” — like the manna that God promised to give his people “in the morning,” and of which they were to gather only a “daily portion,” enough for each day.[i] In the Gospels the expression “to give bread” (arton didonai) only occurs in a Eucharistic context.[ii] Jesus called himself the true bread from heaven that gives eternal life. So “daily bread” is a petition asking God to give us “today” the bread of the eschatological banquet, the bread of the wedding feast, Jesus himself.[iii] The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (no.81) says that “in the Lord’s Prayer, daily food is prayed for, which for Christians means preeminently the Eucharistic bread” — which is a preview and eschatological pledge of participation in the “wedding feast of the Lamb” and of eternal life. Christian ministry is all about giving Jesus to people — not just doctrine, morality, or even the support of community, unless in and through these we give each other the experience of the living Jesus present among us, nourishing us with word and sacrament. “Give us today the bread of tomorrow.” Jesus says we should pray to experience him in our lives now. This should be our daily and life-directing desire. In Matthew 13: 1-9 Jesus reflects with sadness on people’s failure to receive the life-giving seed of his words. We have already seen (Sunday 15 above) what keeps Jesus’ words from growing in our hearts. What should motivate us to work against these obstacles in ourselves and in our ministry to others? Brown says it is the fact that Jesus is the “bread of life” in a “twofold sense”: both as the Eucharist and “as the incarnate teaching (Word) of the Father.” Eucharist should never be separated from reading and reflecting on Christ’s words. “The Lord gave them bread from heaven,” but we must digest this bread on earth by using our human powers daily — memory, mind and will — to receive the “daily bread” of Jesus giving himself in word as well as sacrament. At its root, all Christian ministry is based on the “ministry of the word,” just as the Liturgy of the Eucharist at Mass always follows and “incarnates” in mystery what was proclaimed in the Liturgy of the Word. Ministry is essentially self-expression: letting our “graced self” that is in union with Christ give expression to the divine faith, hope and love within us — but not just in words. In our bodies Christ’s words are “made flesh.”

Initiative: Be a priest. Absorb, live, communicate God’s lifegiving word.

[i]New Testament Essays, Bruce; 1965. [ii] See John 6; Matthew 14:22; Mark 8:6; Luke 24:30 and the post-resurrectional meal in John 21:13. [iii] See John 6: 30-58; Matthew 8:11; 22:2; 25:10; Luke 6:21; 14:15; 22: 29-30; Revelation 19:9.

Reflections brought to you by the Immersed in Christ Ministry

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