Bread, in the ordinary sense, is the food prepared and consumed for physical survival. When God created the universe, He made provisions for food so all living beings could survive. “The LORD God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it” (Gen 2:15). That was to earn his livelihood. After the sin of Adam and Eve, God told Adam, “Cursed is the ground because of you! In toil you shall eat its yield all the days of your life. Thorns and thistles it shall bear for you, and you shall eat the grass of the field. By the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread, Until you return to the ground, from which you were taken” (Gen 3: 17-19). Thus, the breadwinning became burdensome after the sin.
GOD FED ISRAELITES
God liberated the Israelites from Egypt and brought to the desert under the leadership of Moses. Because of their sin, they had to wander in the desert for forty years. During that time, God fed them with manna from above. God told Moses: “I am going to rain down bread from heaven for you” (Ex 16:4). “In the evening, quailc came up and covered the camp. In the morning there was a layer of dew all about the camp” (Ex 16:13).
JESUS AND BREAD OF LIFE
Jesus fed crowds who listened to him at least twice with the miraculous multiplication of bread and fish. In the Lord’s prayer, Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” That bread is not just the physical bread that we make or buy from the market, but the supernatural bread, the Holy Eucharist. Jesus presented himself as the bread of spiritual life. He said, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (Jn 6:35). Like God fed the Israelites with manna daily in the desert for forty years for their physical survival until they reached the promised land, Jesus is nourishing the Christians with another supernatural bread, his Body and Blood, until we reach heaven, the next promised land.
As per the instruction of God, Moses asked Aaron to put the full omer (measure) of manna in a jar and place it in front of the covenant of the Lord in the Tabernacle (Ex 16:33-34). Thus, the Israelites used to keep manna in a jar close to the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies. In the New Testament, we place the new manna, the Holy Eucharist, in a tabernacle close to the altar that represents the throne of the Almighty Lord.
Bread is made from the plants or trees using their leaves, stems, roots, seeds, or nuts. Besides, we also nourish ourselves by eating the fruits, fish, and meat of animals and birds. A partial or full sacrifice of life of plants or animals are involved in the making of our food or bread. Likewise, the sacrifice and death of Jesus was necessary for our spiritual nourishment. By his self-sacrifice, Jesus became our living and lifegiving bread for our souls.
Bread is necessary for humans to sustain their physical lives. Jesus came down from heaven as spiritual bread to nourish our souls. Eating the living bread, that is the body and blood of Jesus, is required for eternal life. The physical food can keep our lives only until death. The bread that Jesus gives is for the nourishment of our eternal soul. Jesus said, “Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal” (Jn 6:27).