The first request in Jesus' prayer is for bread. Simple, plentiful bread. Why is that?
"Give us this day our daily bread" — the first request in the Lord's Prayer.
Funny, isn't it? So often we think of "prayer" as the process of asking for something from God. Yet it comes in a distant third in the Lord's prayer; following giving glory to God, and our promise to do our part in making it "on earth as it is in heaven."
And then, when he does come to make a request to the Eternal, the Maker of Heaven and Earth, Source of Life and Light, the One Who Can Do Anything — Jesus asks for bread....
Bread?? Not the power to heal the sick and raise the dead? Not justice for the innocent, comfort for the sorrowing? Not peace to the nations?
It seems like such a small thing; insignificant, almost. Especially in this community, where few of us have ever "wanted" for bread. We've had enough to eat — usually more than enough to eat — all of our lives.
The same was true of the small community that clustered around Jesus: it seems that they had plenty to eat and drink. The Lord and his disciples apparently enjoyed hearty meals frequently — so much so, in fact, that Jesus was accused of being "a glutton and a drunkard" (Mt 11:19; Luke 7:34).
Why would Jesus teach us to pray for something that we already have?
Perhaps we pray for our daily bread because it has been provided for us. Perhaps it helps prevent us from taking such a "simple" thing for granted — and all of the other "simple things" that are a part of our lives.
When you partake of your "daily bread," what do you see? Is it nourishment for your body? A good-tasting treat? A necessary evil? Is it the thought-filled handiwork of a family member, a baker or a chef? A rest from your labors? Or do you even see it at all?
So often in my travels I see people eating as they drive; downing a hastily-grabbed sandwich, or burrito, or a bagel and coffee from Starbucks. We eat in our cars, at our desks, in meetings, during telephone calls. Even at home, food is just one item in our busy lives: while we eat we read, do crosswords, surf the internet, watch television, check-in with our housemates ... Very few of us truly appreciate our meals — we hardly recognize them as they fade into the blur of the tasks that fill our days.
I wonder. What would it be like if we saw all our meals — each mouthful, every bite of bread, spoon of soup, forkful of salad — as a heavenly gift?
Since that is the subject of the Lord's prayer request, let's begin with a simple loaf of bread. The wheat with which it is made came from the earth. In the soft magic of the soil, seeds sprouted and grew. The warmth of the sun lured them into the daylight, in the gentle darkness of night they rested and grew strong. Water's sweet energy filled each plant with the power to lift its arms up to the sky.
Miracle after miracle.
And that's just the wheat. There are other ingredients with equally amazing stories.
Each bite of our "daily bread" is a mouthful of miracles.
Every meal is a gift from heaven. Every meal is a sacrament: a holy sign of the Beloved's care and concern for us.
May we always receive our daily bread — and all of the other "everyday miracles" — with grateful hearts and joyful spirits.
Be mindful of the "mouthful of miracles" in each meal you eat this week.