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Exodus 16:2-4, 12-15 / Ephesians 4:17,20-24 / John 6:24-35

Here’s a true story. . .
it’s about a priest and his mother.

This priest’s mother
really enjoyed gambling at
the local casino.

She showed up at the boat so often,
that everyone knew her as
“The Captain.”

One day “The Captain” invited her priest son
home for lunch and
opened the conversation with a question:

“Son, do you know the difference between
praying at the boats and
praying in church?”

Playing along,
her priest son replied:

“No mom, what’s the difference between
praying at the boats and
praying in church?”

The mom squared her silverware. . .

Then she leaned toward
her priest son. . .

looked him in the eye,. . .

and in all sincerity declared:

“When you pray at the boat,
you really mean it!!!”

So I want to start out today,
not with the Bread of Life Discourse
in John 6 . . .

but with a word about prayer.

Because we. . .
unlike the “The Captain”. . .
do pray at the Mass. . . at Church.

Now we may pray at the boat too. . .
or at the track. . .

But we do pray at Mass. . .

And the prayer I want to talk about today. . .
is the “Lord’s Prayer.”

And there’s one phrase I want to concentrate on. . .

I want to say something about the phrase
“Give us this day our daily bread.”

“Give us this day our daily bread.”

First, let’s just talk about the word
“bread” for a moment.

In the Jewish context,
“bread” is a word loaded with meaning.

“Bread” to the Jew means more
than just the basic food source needed
for biological survival.

When Jews hear the word “bread”
they also think of the “manna in the desert.”

The Israelites flee from
being enslaved by the Egyptians. . .

and they’re wandering the desert. . .

and there’s nothing to eat. . .

they can’t survive without food. . .

so they plead with Moses,
“have you led us into the desert to make
the whole community die of famine?”

So God provides them bread. . .

“bread from heaven. . .

manna.”

So “bread” takes on a deeper meaning. . .

it has a theological meaning. . .
a spiritual meaning!!!

“Bread become associated with God. . .

and God’s care for His chosen people. . .

and their ultimate fate and salvation.

So bread has a literal. . .
material meaning
the basic food substance that keeps us alive. . .

And “Bread” also has a deeper meaning,
a theological and spiritual meaning.

“Bread” is something that
satisfies our physical hunger. . .

and our spiritual hunger.

“Give us this day our daily bread,”
Jesus teaches us to pray.

But what’s really, really interesting
about the phrase
“give us this day our daily bread”. . .

is the adjective that
modifies “bread” in the Lord’s Prayer.

It’s translated as “daily” in English.

But here’s the literal translation of the phrase
“give us this day our daily bread”. . .
in it’s original Greek. . .

Give us this day our “super-substantial bread.”

Give us this day our “super-substantial bread.”

And this word, translated as “daily”
But literally means “super substantial”

only appears in the Lord’s Prayer.. .

no where else. . .

No where else in any of Greek literature
does the Greek word
“epiousian” appear.

Interesting isn’t it!!!

Give us this day our “super-substantial” bread.

Those who study such things
have deduced a double context
for this word too.

“super-substantial bread”
probably means something like
“super-essential bread” . . .

or just enough bread necessary for
our earthly existence in one day. . .

Just give us enough bread for today. . .

Just like in the desert when God
gave the Israelites just enough
“bread” or “manna”
for one day. . .

don’t hoard. . .
God will provide.
But there’s an obvious spiritual and
theological meaning too. . .

“super-substantial bread”. . .

“Super-substantial”. . .

it means the Eucharist. . .

the Bread of Life in John 6.

Give us this day our daily bread. . .
The Lord teaches us to pray. . .

“Give us this day the bread we need
to sustain our biological lives. . .”

and give us this day the bread we
need to sustain our spiritual lives. . .

The Eucharist.

Jesus taught us to pray it. . .

and Jesus executed it.

Jesus sees people hungry. . .
He has pity on them. . .
And He takes 5 loaves and 2 fishes. . .
and feeds 5,000 plus!!!

And Jesus institutes the Eucharist. . .
At the Last Supper. . .
Which He teaches about in the Bread of Life Discourse. . .
Jesus offers Himself. . .
Bread of Eternal Life.

Physical food for physical hunger. . .

Spiritual food for spiritual hunger. . .

Both contained together. . .
both inseparably linked. . .
in the Lord’s prayer.

Pray like this Jesus says:

Give us this day our daily bread. . .

Give us this day our super substantial bread.

I want to end by recalling two Christians
who understood so well,
this inseparable link between
the material and spiritual meaning of “daily bread.”

Dorothy Day. . .

and St. Mother Teresa.

They were friends and met with each
other on several occasions.

The first time was in the 1970’s when
Dorothy Day went to Calcutta to
meet with Mother Teresa.

Here is an eyewitness account of that meeting:

The two women kneeling
in front of me in the Calcutta chapel
[in front of the Blessed Sacrament]
were visionaries who brought people to them and
their work by their unique vision,
not by argument.

For each one, the mass was the central act of the day.

Despite her schedule of travel,
Dorothy Day hardly missed daily mass.

Each blazed forth a special genius.
With an unerring precision,
coupled with the wild abandon of faith in providence,
each had gone straight to the least wanted,
the poorest, in her society—

one to the poor of the megalopolis of New York,
the other to the poor of the megalopolis of Calcutta. . . .

Each had made a banquet to which had been called
the lame, the [weak], and the blind. (Eileen Egan)

You see, the spiritual food,
the Eucharist
fed their drive
to give physical food to the hungry.

They’re inseparably linked in the Lord’s Prayer.

Dorothy Day mentions the Mass
more than 300 times in her diaries.

She wrote,
“The weight of the world is on me when I awake,
until I get to Mass.”

She wrote:
“We are nourished by his flesh that
we may grow to be other Christs.

“I believe this literally,
just as I believe the child is nourished
by the milk from his mother’s breast.”

Mother Teresa wrote:

Unless we believe and
see Jesus in the appearance of bread on the altar,

we will not be able to see him in
the distressing disguise of the poor.

So today, in Church,
we will pray. . .
and we’ll pray in the way Jesus taught us to pray. . .

“Give us this day, our daily bread.”