Our Lord is using a familiar substance, bread, to point out a spiritual truth. Bread is something that has been around since people first dropped seeds into the ground, watched them grow, and ground the results into flour. There is even an early reference in the Magna Carta, the Great Charter of 1215, to the necessity of keeping bakers honest by monitoring the quality of the loaves they baked, so important was bread to national nutrition.
Along with the importance of bread as a food is the social value of bread in the companionship of eating it together. In fact, the word “companion” has its roots in the Latin “com” (with) and “panis” (bread), meaning “one with whom one shares bread.” Close friends often “break bread” together as they share food.
Our Lord joins two areas, one social, the other spiritual, when he speaks of himself as the Bread of life. Our spiritual nutrition is the very heart of his mission to us. At his table, he feeds us the food that prevents spiritual malnutrition, his very body. We, accepting in faith this heavenly food, truly become Jesus’ companions.
Lord Jesus, may we gladly accept the very bread of yourself that you offer. Amen. — AEA