“I am the bread of life.” John 6:35

Happy Palm Sunday! Like me, many of you are probably spending this Palm Sunday in semi-isolation, away from your worship family. In our town, this will be our fourth Sunday without the ability to go to mass in person, our fourth Sunday without the gift of the Eucharist. And while this is difficult, and I appreciate the sentiments of loss and grief I see in the Catholic online community, this time away from the physical presence of the Eucharist, the bread of life, has given be some new perspective on the gifts Jesus gives us each and every day.

in Therese of Lisieux’s Story of a Soul she talks about the day of her first communion as one of the most important in her life. She also writes of looking forward with eager anticipation to her second communion, which she alo remembers in detail. Throughout the book she talks about the occasions when she was able to receive communion. Being able to receive communion weekly, or even better yet, daily, is a very recent privilege. For Therese, she was only allowed to receive communion when granted permission by a priest or spiritual director.

We are so lucky that in normal, non pandemic circumstances, we can receive Jesus physically every single day! But even when we can’t, Jesus is STILL the bread of life. In the Lord’s prayer we ask God to give us this day our daily bread, and Jesus the bread of life is just that- our daily bread. Jesus is here to feed us, to fill us, to nourish us, every single time that we ask.

The image of Jesus as bread of life reminds me that bread brings people together. Almost every culture and feast that I know of has some type of special bread to it. In my community, I’ve been blessed to share pan dulce and fry bread with people very different from me. I’ve gotten to break bread with friends as a part of their Sukkot Shabat celebration. I’ve made bread and pastries for the feast of St. Joseph and shared them with students and coworkers. Jesus, the bread of life, wants to bring people together. In this time apart from others, I find a lot of comfort in that.

For today: I will pray for all those who are suffering from hunger and isolation in my community. If I can, I will make bread for someone. If that won’t work, I will donate to local food banks to help my neighbors who are struggling in this difficult time.

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