Church Fathers, Day Fifty: St. Augustine and our daily bread

Church Fathers, Day Fifty: St. Augustine and our daily bread September 9, 2014

st_augustine_3Our daily bread is the Word of God and the Mass

Give us this day our daily bread”: we pray these words even if we have plenty of bread in the pantry. Why? St. Augustine says it’s because we need something more than ordinary bread.

When you say, “Give us this day our daily bread,” you admit that you’re God’s beggar. But don’t be ashamed of that. No matter how rich you are on earth, you’re still God’s beggar. And what does the rich man need? I dare say he needs daily bread.

But this bread, dear friends, that fills our bodies and builds up our flesh every day—God gives it not just to those who praise him, but also to those who blaspheme him: “For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). You praise him, and he feeds you; you blaspheme him, and he feeds you.

So, since both good and bad get this bread from God, don’t you think the children must be asking for some other sort of bread—the bread about which the Lord said in the Gospel, “It is not fair to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs” (Matthew 15:26)? Certainly they must be. So what is that bread, and why do we call it “daily”?

We call it “daily” because it’s as necessary as the other bread. We can’t live without it. Our bread is daily bread, and it feeds—not our bodies, but our souls. It is necessary for us who are laborers in the vineyard right now: it’s our food, not our wages. Whoever hires a laborer for his vineyard owes him two things: food to keep him going, and his wages to make him rejoice.

Here on earth, our daily food is the Word of God, which is always given out in the churches. Our wages after our labor are called eternal life.

And if by “our daily bread” you understand what the faithful receive (the Eucha­rist)—what you will receive when you are baptized—then we have good reason to ask “Give us this day our daily bread”: so that we may live in such a way that we are not separated from the holy altar.

St. Augustine, Sermon 6, 9-10

IN GOD’S PRESENCE, CONSIDER . . .

Have I recognized how deep my need is for the Word and the Eucharist?

Do I take every opportunity to receive that “daily bread”?

CLOSING PRAYER

Lord, enlighten the eyes of my mind, so that I can understand your Word. Make me worthy to be not only a hearer, but also a doer of your Word, so that, yielding good fruit, I may at last be worthy of the Kingdom of heaven. Day 51 51

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