A Word Spread Over Bread

Maslowe 2

I remember years ago working on the side at a group home for mentally ill and being exposed to a pyramid model called Maselow’s Hierarchy.  Abraham Maselow was a psychological theorist that put basic human needs on the first level of the pyramid (food, shelter etc) and that a human cannot do well in the higher levels of need unless the basics are addressed.  It is a simple principle but one I have come back to in personal and academic development.

Jesus had something to say that one could interpret as addressing the same thing. In teaching His disciples how to pray He said, ““Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11).  Sounds simple enough, right?  It could seem like a proof text about asking for one’s personal, physical needs to be met.  Now as a social worker I would see that there is some credence to applying Maselow in social services.

But for Christian application I propose that Jesus meant to go much further than that.  First, the modern reader needs to understand that the “personal Lord and Savior” paradigm that is emphasized in western Christianity was not developed in the first century.  As we have seen in the Lord’s Prayer it has “Our Father” as the first words.  Our needs, whether physical or spiritual, are meant to be contextualized in the context of being in the family of God.  We should come to God in prayer knowing provision is more than about the individual in some intrinsic way.

Second, we should udnerstand that the prior verse is about His kingdom and will coming and being done on earth as it is in heaven and that emphasis overlaps in theme with bread.  At this time only Jews were disciples of Jesus.  They had counted the cost of discipleship and found Jesus to be the King of Israel.  When bread is meantioned it is pregnant with meaning via the salvation history they knew.  There was bread in the qahal, solemn assembly, in the time of David.  There was manna in the desert in the time of Moses.  “Mortals ate of the bread of angels; he sent them food in abundance” (Psalms 78:25).

The meaning of Jesus, literally in the name, is that God saves.  God is out to save the world so much that in my recent post I wrote that praying for God to save the world should be our highest intercession.  But when the macro goes to the personal, we are made whole in salvation.  In fact, many times in the gospels the word sozo is about one angle of participation of being whole.  If somone repents and turns to Jesus they are made sozo and when the woman was healed by Jesus through touching the hem of His garment it was sozo there too.

For many years I had a few gnawing questions in Christian fellowship that bear some telling here.  One is that I would see someone like the stage at a high school that my old church rented and wonder how there could be some kind of focal point for worship in the congregation that would be right with Jesus and not idolatry.  The other query I had wanting to know some deep way of experiencing Jesus in the communion of bread and wine.

This has been answered in my journey in becoming a Catholic.  The bread of angels would not be of the lowest angel because provision presupposes hierarchy.  The bread of angels would not be of man’s design since in the time of Moses they lacked the cleansing of original sin.  The bread of heaven is Jesus and He said so clearly in the the Bread of Life Discouse in John 6.  Pope John Paul II referred to the Eucharist (from the Greek word eucharistia) as the “Summit and Source of our faith”.  Christ referred to His flesh with the following words, “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink” (John 6:54-55).

Jesus did not mince words in what was both an invitation by grace. Jesus laid down the gauntlet on how someone could be scandalized by the message of the cross sacramentally and thank God for it. It is just a matter of asking Our Father in heaven that which is the divine nature in Jesus. Peter wrote in his later years that we are partakers of His divine nature and he meant it as something far beyond that of a goosebump emotional experience.  Peter knew, and experienced, that to partake of God’s divine nature was a matter of communion as both the theological and ecclisastical norm.

Recommended Reading:

Jesus and The Jewish Roots of The Eucharist by Brant Pitre.

The Lamb’s Supper by Scott Hahn.

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