Today's let's consider the next petition of the Lord's Prayer.
Previous posts in the series:
Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name
Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
Bread symbolizes first, at the most shallow level, physical food (Augustine) – the materials our bodies need to function. As Dr. Kreeft puts it, God has dangerous tastes, and He allows a lot of evil to occur in the working of His good. People starve around the world while the greed, pride, and indifference of men prevent the ample food supply from reaching them. We pray for all people to have what they need, for our daily bread. We are one – one whole people. (Cyprian)
We include ourselves in this request – that I, specifically, not suffer for a lack of what I need. This seems perfectly human and natural, rather than selfish. First, we are asking for what we need, not what we want, which is often a much longer (and greedier) list. Second, even Jesus asked for His cup of suffering to pass by. This level of interpretation is shallow but not wrong; life is precious and sustaining it is one of our first commands (Gen 1:28). It is our duty to ask for these things – to seek to preservation of our life. It becomes greed and pride only when we ask for more.
On a deeper level, we ask for the Word of God that is preached daily - bread for the soul. (Augustine) This less literal interpretation of the verse is beneficial for us, as well. (Cyprian) We need food for our souls, so that they are strong and capable, as much - perhaps more - than we need food for our bodies. All of us began our life spiritually deprived; most of us continue, at least on occasion, to starve for the Spirit. Jesus warned us of the spiritual dangers of wealth and power. If we have much in this world, we are tempted to feel content and stop thinking about the next. In this way, it seems that those with the most food are in the greatest danger of starvation.
Lastly, the daily bread we ask for is the bread of life, the Eucharist, consecrated and offered each day at Mass. (Augustine) Christ's body and blood is real food. (It is astonishing that those Christians who wish to read the entire Bible literally choke on the beautifully simple John 6:55.) Without this food, we have no life in us (John 6:53). Again, we may eat and eat, and yet starve, if we are not eating the right food. Every day, the Body of Christ is offered and waits for us to eat. Can we remember even 1/7 of the time to "take and eat"? For this, most of all, we pray.
Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2d ed. (Washington: United States Catholic Conference, 1997).
St. Augustine, "Letter 130 to Proba" Available from http://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/library_article/768/Letter_130_to_Proba_Augustine.html. Accessed 25 May, 2009.
St. Cyprian, "The Lord's Prayer." Available from http://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/library_article/635/Our_Father__the_Lord_s_Prayer_St_Cyprian.html. Internet; accessed 20 May 2009.
Peter Kreeft, "10 Uncommon Insights Into Evil from Lord of the Rings." Available from http://peterkreeft.com/audio/04_insights-into-evil.htm. Internet; accessed 20 May 2009.