May 28, 2023 •
Bread. It's the easiest way to understand these mysteries of salvation.
Today - Pentecost - the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles and the Virgin Mary and appeared as tongues of fire.
So, why is bread the perfect analogy, the perfect example that God has given us to understand all of these great mysteries?
It's because Jesus chose bread to be the main symbol to be used in the Eucharist, which is His Body, His real presence among us.
Jesus is the One Who chose bread to be used at the Last Supper, and that we've used ever since. But remember, He's God, which means He designed bread. He knew that once He created humans, they'd harvest wheat and grind it up, mix it with some water, and bake it. And voila: this great substance that everybody all over the world has eaten since the beginning of time. This most basic form of nourishment was the main tool He wanted to use in nourishing of His Body, and in making Himself present for the rest of time.
There's a basic rule about Eucharistic bread - and it comes from the Last Supper: there can only be two ingredients to this bread. Flour and water. It's forbidden to use any other elements. Because at the Last Supper, that's what Jesus used. Unleavened bread. This is the same bread the Israelites used at Passover right before their Exodus from Egypt - they had to flee quickly and didn't have time to let their bread rise. They didn't use yeast, they just baked it and ran.
Now, this isn't an accident, it's not a coincidence. Our Lord designs these things. . . . There's got to be a reason why He wanted this very simple form of bread to be used in His Real Presence.
It's because of what each of the elements of bread symbolizes. There are three main elements to this bread, even though there are only two ingredients.
The first element of course is the grain. But it's not just grain - you don't take the grain, mix with water and bake. You have to grind up the grain first, that's an essential aspect. Grind it into flour. The Fathers of the Church tell us that Our Lord, knowing - designing - the way to make bread this way, did so because He was going to use bread to symbolize His presence (I mean "symbol" in the sense that it looks like bread but it's actually His Body). And His Body was ground up in His Passion, was it not? The grinding of the grain was to symbolize the death that our Lord would have to endure to redeem us. Not just grain picked off the ear. It has to be crushed into powder. Like His own Body. This new flour symbolizes for us our Lord's redeeming act. What He endured in order to nourish us and give us everlasting life. But grinding the flour, that's just the first part of making bread isn't it?
You need water. If you don't have water, I'm sorry, you can bake that flour as much as you want. It's not going to turn into bread. So you mix in water. . . . Why would our Lord have designed it that way? Because for us to share in the Passion of Christ Who wants to redeem us, what do we need? We need to be baptized. What's the main element in baptism? It's water! That's not a coincidence! That's not an accident. These aren't just interesting connections, our Lord designed it to be the way.
So, His saving act: the grinding of the wheat into flour.
Our participation in that act - the water that washes away our sin and unites us with the Body of Christ.
But again, flour and water doesn't make bread. There's still one essential element that is required.
And that's fire. . . . .
You see the last gift given - the Spirit - to complete the work of Christ and to form the Church in the world, was fire.
Acts 2:1-11; Ps 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34; 1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13; Jn 20:19-23
Homily begins at 25:33