By Fr. Mike Boutin
"I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." ~ John 6:35
John Michael Talbot's "I Am the Bread of Life" is a wonderful audio-visual prayer today, thanks, as always, to YouTube!
For a few years after I turned forty, in order to manage my weight, I ascribed to the Atkins Diet: a low-carb, high-protein diet that works pretty well, especially for men. I finally realized, however, that exercise works better! But the real reason that Dr. Atkins and I broke up is because I missed bread: crusty bread, French bread, Italian bread, hot dog rolls, and especially fresh baked bread, right out of the oven, smelling like love, and Ma, and home.
Bread is the food of humanity. I heard once that there is no culture known to history that does not have some form of bread in its diet.
Bread is the staff of life. It is food for the journey. It is nourishment, and it is home.
Christ comes to us in the Eucharist as bread and wine. Unleavened in the Catholic tradition, like the unleavened matza of the Jews: the bread that has no time to rise because they are in flight from the slavery of the Egyptians to the freedom of the Promised Land. Our unleavened Eucharistic bread is food for our journey: from the slavery of sin and selfishness to the freedom of the daughters and sons of God, sisters and brothers of the Risen One, who truly shares his Body and Blood with us.
Wine is the food of celebration. People in love drink wine. People laughing and dancing and rejoicing drink wine. Wine means life, drunk to the full. But red wine, especially, reminds us of blood: the life-force. The grapes must literally give up their life so that we might experience the sweetness of good wine. Grapes, crushed, destroyed, killed: so that new life comes in abundance.
Wine is the blood of the martyrs . . . it is the blood of the Cross. But it points to the wine that the disciples surely drank in His Risen presence when He appeared to them with the promise of the Spirit's gifts and Easter joy. And good, abundant wine points us to the Eternal Banquet Feast of Isaiah and Revelation: the heavenly table at which all hungers are fed, and where all are welcome!
In the Eucharist, we meet in a real way, the Risen Christ. He shares His new life with us in sacramental signs of Bread and Wine. "Amen!" we say to The Body of Christ. "Amen!" we say to the Blood of Christ. And when we do, we say "Amen!" to real presence in Bread and Wine. But also, we say "Amen!" to real presence in us: The Body and Blood of Christ for the world!
The Eucharist changes me so that I might be a leaven for change in this hungry and thirsty world, which so needs Christ's real presence of healing, and mercy, and forgiveness, and peace.
Say "Amen!" Church! Now, pray . . .
Father Mike Boutin is the co-pastor of the Church of the Blessed Sacrament, Walpole, MA, and travels widely, leading pilgrimages throughout the world to various Catholic religious sites. He is a frequent speaker on liturgy, music, spirituality, and pastoral ministry.
6/1/2010 4:00:00 AM