My Italian father insisted that there always be bread on the dinner table, no matter what the meal was! Bread is the “staff of life” in so many cultures. I’ve noticed that inflation in underdeveloped countries is often measured by a rise in the price of bread, and emergency food aid is often delivered as sacks of flour. In our first reading today from Exodus, Moses and God work to give starving Israelites quail and manna to eat. In our Gospel, Jesus tries to get people who are not starving to focus on being spiritually fed. He wants them to go beyond searching for literal bread and look for the “bread of God … which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” For me there are two takeaways from these readings: Desperation to stay alive prevents people who are starving from focusing on anything except where their next meal is coming from, and therefore we who have so much, if we want them to focus on life and love, must first provide that meal. And secondly, we who have so much need to starve ourselves somewhat from material things, to become more detached from seeking security and pleasure in them, so that we also can focus on life and love. Active generosity in giving material things to those in need, and passive restraint in our own relationship to material things — it’s kind of the yin and yang of bread, isn’t it?
– Blog entry by Sister Mary Garascia