November 7, 2014

Homilies on the "Lord's Prayer", Also Known as the "Our Father" (5 of 9)

...continued from part four.

"Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread"

Christ, my beloved brethren, knows that we are human and have need of physical food. He also had flesh and ate, although in Christ hunger and thirst were not a necessity to be acted upon, but He did so voluntarily and willingly. But humans have a need for physical food, although this is not the case with the angels in heaven who do not have a body and therefore have no need for physical food. Thus, while in the previous request of the Lord's Prayer Christ spoke about the need for us to live like angels, He now comes, with this other request we will now interpret, to lower Himself to our illness and teaches us that we must pray to God our Father for our daily bread as well. Humans are not identical in all respects with the angels, since we have a body and must be fed. This is why He taught us to supplicate God to give us our daily bread.

First, Christ speaks of "bread" and not money, a self-indulgent life, luxurious clothing and all those things man is overly interested in. With this request He teaches us to ask from God what is necessary and not care about accumulating much material goods. Besides, this excludes the fact that our prayer is to our common Father, and this means that there are other children of the Father, and we have other brethren. Hence, all of God's children have the same rights to our patrimony and it is not possible for one to act against the other siblings.

Then, this bread is called "daily", which means that it is necessary for the maintenance of the body, necessary for our essential biological life, and it is "ephemeral" since the bread is for that day, or daily. Indeed, bread is necessary for our sustenance, and it is important that we ask God to give it to us, for many and various reasons. One is because, as the Holy Fathers teach, the energy of God is within creation and the earth, and this contributes to fruition. If the weather is not suitable, if it does not rain, if the necessary ingredients in the earth do not exist, then the seed in the earth cannot increase and be brought to fruition. Then we must have the health to work in order to make what is necessary for life. And, of course, we can feed ourselves and live not because we eat physical food, but because the Grace of God sustains us through the food. Proof of this is that no matter how much a person may eat, if something is "eating" them within, they cannot be healthy. Also, in an organism that is dying, any food that is given cannot maintain its biological life.

With this request Christ teaches us to expel our many and great worries. This is what "this day" means. Christians must not accumulate many material possessions, like the foolish rich man did in the Parable that was spoken by Christ, because by this we firstly show that we do not have brotherly love, and secondly it shows that we do not have trust in the Providence of God, thus overly trusting ourselves. And in actuality this is a practical form of unbelief.

When we speak of "daily bread" we must have in mind that with this prayer we not only refer to physical bread, but also to two other spiritual breads, the first being the word of God and the second being the Body of Christ. Besides, these two spiritual breads are literally "daily", as they contribute to the sustenance of our essence.

The word of God is the commandments of God, that we should keep in our daily lives and in this way we receive the Grace of God, which is hidden within the commandments. The response of Christ to the first temptation in the desert is known, when after being hungry the devil suggested that He turn the stones into bread. Christ responded: "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4). So man does not only live by bread, but by the words that come from the mouth of God. If the folk saying "your word has satisfied me and your bread eat" applies to human matters, this happens much more with the word of God which is the Grace of God.

The other spiritual bread is the Eucharistic Bread, the Body and Blood of Christ. Christ called Himself the bread that came down from heaven (Jn. 6:41), and that He was higher than the manna the Jews ate in the desert. That the Church has established the "Our Father" to be recited during the Divine Liturgy and even before the reception of the Divine Communion of the Body and Blood of Christ, indicates that this request refers to the heavenly and spiritual bread that sustains us and sanctifies us, which is the Body and Blood of Christ.

This is why every time we are going to savor physical bread - in the morning, afternoon and night - and spiritual bread - when we study Holy Scripture and especially when we commune of the Body and Blood of Christ - we should recite the Lord's Prayer with attention and devotion, and we should rely on this request that we commented on today to ask for our spiritual bread, Christ Himself, Who will satisfy our spiritual hunger.