Baking the Bread of Life 

Christ is risen!

Indeed He is risen! 

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I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?” Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.  (John 6:48-54)

The above passage reminded me of a quote I read recently from a church father who used an imagery for the incarnation calling Mary the oven in whom the bread of heaven is baked.  But try as I might I could not remember where I had read that.  It is a wonderful metaphor which readily shows the synergy between God and humans as God’s plan of salvation unfolds.

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Roman Catholic biblical scholar Jean Danielou makes a similar comment on the text:

“… John 6:51: ‘The bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.’  Clement writes: ‘The bread here must have a mystic signification, for it designates his flesh, and that as resurrected.  Just as wheat (pyros) rises again from decomposition and sowing, so his flesh is reconstituted by fire (pyros) to the joy of the Church like bread that has been baked’… The first part of this passage takes up the theme of the seed sown in the ground and springing up again; but the second part introduces a new element, the fire.  Just as fire bakes bread, so it transfigures the body of Christ. It is striking that the image of the bread baked by fire occurs in the Martyrdom of Polycarp (XV, 2), where it signifies ‘the transformation of the martyr and his entry into heavenly glory, or even his glorious resurrection.’   The fire is here considered not as destructive, but as life-giving.”   (GOSPEL MESSAGE AND HELLENISTIC CULTURE, p 28)

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Fire is not only destructive, it is also used in cooking and baking to make nutritional meals and delicious food as well as in purifying metals or medical devices, creating new compounds, the shaping of steel or pottery. We cringe at the thought of any problems in this world, and yet at times the trials of life can be a fire that bakes, purifies, shapes or transfigures our lives in the good way that only a holy fire can.  Without fire, the dough would remain a  moist, gooey, yeasty  lump with little appeal.  The fire transform the dough into delicious, nutritional bread.