Week of 4 Lent, Year One[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]
Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:
Psalms 102 (morning) // 107:1-32 (evening)
Our Psalm and our gospel this morning speak of three different types of bread. The first is not really bread at all, but a poor substitute consumed by the Psalmist in his anguish: “For I have eaten ashes for bread and mingled my drink with weeping.” In his time of feeling hopeless, useless, and pointless, the Psalmist eats his own suffering.
The second type of bread is a provision for this mortal life. Jesus refers to manna as the bread “which your ancestors ate, and they died.” This bread satisfies and sustains our bodies but doesn’t nourish any form of transcendent life.
The third type of bread is “the bread that came down from heaven”: Christ’s own flesh and blood. As Jesus teaches, “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life . . . Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.” This is the bread that we encounter at the Eucharistic table, the bread that nourishes us for the transcendent and abundant life offered to us by Jesus.
Which bread will we consume today? The bread of ashes and tears? The bread of daily, bodily sustenance? The bread that nourishes our souls and bodies for life in Christ? Or perhaps a portion of all three?
At the very least, let’s not neglect to eat the bread that Jesus offers. In his pain, the Psalmist cries out, “My heart is smitten like grass and withered, so that I forget to eat my bread.” Let the Psalm serve as a warning to us against forgetting to eat our bread. Whether our plates are full of the bread of tears and ashes, or full of the mundane and daily bread that keeps our lives up and running, may we never forget to eat the bread of life.
Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.