Wednesday of the 16th WEEK in Ordinary Time | Year A | Cycle I
First Reading: Exodus 16:1-5,9-15.
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 78:18-19,23-24,25-26,27-28.
Gospel Reading: Matthew 13:1-9.
My Priestly Childhood
I used to love eating bread a lot. I still don’t know whether it had to do my interest in the priesthood, or how bread reminded me of the Bible. Yes, there is a strong connection in my head between bread and the entire Bible.
I remember a time when I would sit down at the table with my family to eat breakfast. Then, putting the bread next to the cup of tea, I would imagine myself as a priest and mumble the words, “He took the bread.” I would then say the Grace Before Meals, making the sign of the cross on myself, the plate of bread, and the cup of tea. After prayers always came my little story: The Biblical Significance of Bread.
It was in those days that I learn so much about the Gospel of Christ, and how the Old Testament foreshadowed the New.
Bread in the Bible
Bread, was a very important part of the Israeli culture. It appears many times throughout the Bible. It symbolized nourishment, and on a larger scale, life sustenance. Whenever an Israeli “broke bread” with another person, he wasn’t only having a meal. He was sharing a part of his own with that person. It symbolized that the other man was welcome. This was what Abraham did in the Bible:
Now the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, while he was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day. When he lifted up his eyes and looked, behold, three men were standing opposite him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth, and said, “My Lord, if now I have found favor in Your sight, please do not pass Your servant by. “Please let a little water be brought and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree; and I will bring a piece of bread, that you may refresh yourselves; after that you may go on, since you have visited your servant.”
And they said, “So do, as you have said.” So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah, and said, “Quickly, prepare three measures of fine flour, knead it and make bread cakes.”
– Genesis 18:1-6.
The Passover Meal
The Feast of Passover is also known as the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Israelis celebrate this feast because it reminds them of when the Lord’s deliverance. Israel escaped from the land of Egypt and their lives were spared. Again, bread was involved in this redemption story.
Melchizedek the Priest
Abram (before God made him Abraham) met Melchizedek. This was another place that bread appeared.
After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) And he blessed him and said,
“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!”
And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
In the scripture above, wine is also included. This is one of the parts of the Bible that foreshadowed the Eucharist. And the priest foreshadowed Christ, our Eternal High Priest. As scripture says:
For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.
This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. For it is witnessed of him,
“You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.”
– Hebrews 7:14-17
The first reading today is one of those places Bread appears. Here, the people of Israel complained complained against Moses, and he prayed to God. Then, God sent bread from heaven (manna) for them to eat. The first reading ends with, “This is the bread the Lord has given you to eat.” The book of Psalms also talk about the this “Bread from Heaven”.
This was a serious problem in the future when Jesus arrived. The Jews knew the bread of heaven to be that physical bread their ancestors ate. Jesus was telling them something different about this bread of heaven. He said:
…”I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
– John 6:35.
The Bread of Life is the His Flesh
This statement was vague in a sense, and Jesus knew that. So He clarified himself… a little.
Truly, truly, I tell you, he who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven so that anyone may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And this bread, which I will give for the life of the world, is My flesh.”
– John 6:47-51
For some reason, the Jews couldn’t still get it. So Jesus came out very plainly:
“Truly, truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is real food, and My blood is real drink.
Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood remains in Me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent Me and I live because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your fathers, who ate the manna and died, the one who eats this bread will live forever.”
– John 6:53-58.
And it was on this note that the believers where defined. Many people left because of this teaching “was too hard” to hear, but Peter and the Apostles stayed. They recognized that Jesus had the message of eternal life, and that there was no place else to go.
The Institution of the Eucharist
On Holy Thursday, the night Jesus was betrayed, He said the first Holy Mass. This sealed the doctrine of the Holy Eucharist, and the Catholic Church’s teaching.
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you:The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves.
– 1 Corinthians 11:23-29.
The Holy Eucharist is the true body and blood of Christ, together with His soul and divinity, under the appearances of bread and wine.
AND THAT, my dearest Divers, is the story I bothered my brother with at every breakfast that had bread. 🙂
O God our Father, through the life, passion, death, and resurrection of your Son, Jesus Christ, you raised a fallen world. Grant us a lively faith which pushes us to know more about You and Your continuous work of redemption. Give us the courage to stand for You, and defend the teachings You have revealed through Your Church. Kindle in us the fire of Your love, and teach us to express this love to everyone we meet. Protect us from heresies, and do not put us to hard testing.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
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God bless you, and have a beautiful day ahead. 🙂