Sunday, March 18, 2012

The bread of life

This is a blog about food, so one of my other interests, religion, doesn't often get explored here. But I wrote this meditation on one of the lectionary readings for today, John 6:27-40, and since it has to deal with food - bread, to be precise - I am posting it here.

Reflection for the fourth Sunday of Lent

It is said that John is the most mystical of the Gospel writers, yet he has Jesus telling his disciples: “I am the bread of life.” What can be mystical about bread?

Bread has sustained humankind since before the written record of history. It can be made a number of different ways, with many kinds of grain, but it depends on a living organism, yeast, to make it what it is. The yeast takes the dense flour, feeds on its sugars, multiplies, raises the mass into a bubbling sponge, full of air pockets that will make the inside of the loaf soft and cloudlike while the outside, the crust, contains it and absorbs the direct heat, turning brown and stiff in the process.

The process is somewhat of a miracle.

Bread has about 60 percent of the amino acids we need to sustain life. (Add cheese and mushrooms and you get as much protein as a chicken breast. Or look for Ezekiel bread; it has all eight essential amino acids in it.)

Yet as good as bread is, it can still go bad. Molds love to grow on bread, an excellent food source for them. Some molds are beneficial, such as penicillin; ergot, another bread mold, causes hallucinations. Some are just toxic.

But Jesus told them of a bread that held no such perils: “The bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” No wonder the disciples said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

A hymn I often find myself humming is based on this passage:

I am the bread of life 
He who comes to me shall not hunger 
He who believes in me shall not thirst 
No one can come to me 
Unless the Father beckons 
And I will raise you up 
And I will raise you up 
And I will raise you up 
On the last day.

– Lori Korleski Richardson

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