27 February 2007. Tuesday of the 1st Week of Lent
Matthew 6, 7-15: The Our Father
I would like to talk about one of the simplest and well-loved phrases in the Our Father: Give us this day our daily bread. What do we mean by the word “bread” in the Our Father?
First, bread has been identified with the bread at the Lord’s Supper. Since the beginning, the Lord’s Prayer has been closely related to the Lord’s Table. In the very first orders of service in the early Christian communities, it has been instructed that the Lord’s Prayer should be prayed at the celebration of the Lord’s Table — which is today’s mass. Thus, when we pray the phrase, “Give us this day our daily bread” we are saying that the Lord grant us the privilege of being at the Lord’s Table daily. Since we experience the Lord’s table also at our daily meals, then perhaps, the Our Father can be a substitute for the Prayer Before Meals.
Second, bread has been identified with the spiritual food that is the word of God. So, when we say the phrase, “Give us our daily bread” we are saying that the Lord grant us the essential truth and teaching of our faith. That knowing and taking this spiritual food, it would nourish our daily lives as Christians.
Third, the symbol of bread is Jesus Himself, as John would call Jesus as the Bread of Life. And the bread we take at communion is indeed partaking of Jesus. Thus, when we utter this phrase, we say that the Lord may grant us the grace of being joyful, nourished and strengthened by Jesus, Himself, the Bread of Life.
Finally, the bread can also mean our physical bodies. That God is also concerned for our health. Jesus’ healing miracles is first of all, a healing of the body — whether it was of disease, hunger, etc. For Jesus, bodily healing is also healing for the soul and the mind. Thus, we are also praying that the Lord provide us with the basic necessities we need to keep our bodies healthy.
Having said all these, we hope that when we begin to pray the Lord’s Prayer, we will now have a deeper appreciation of its meaning.