Cooking is one of my passions. One of my weaknesses, though, is buying cookery books. A while ago now, (pre-Covid) I found in a local charity shop four of Claire MacDonald’s paperbacks, in mint condition. I spent part of the rest of that day with my nose stuck in the books. One bit in particular struck me later as, being rather apt in relation to today’s Gospel reading. It is not as recipe but an introduction to a recipe for ‘Black olive, sun-dried tomato and garlic bread’:
“I made this recipe first in the summer of 1992, making it up as I went along. Initially I tried baking it in oiled loaf tins….(b)ut I didn’t like the texture that resulted… .
then I discovered that in my enthusiasm I was using too much olive oil. This revelation came via the Chubb inspector of our fire extinguishers, who arrived one day as I was happily kneading away, and gazed long and thoughtfully at my bread making (sadly not at me!). Then unable to contain himself any longer, he rushed to the sink and washed his hands, and said ‘Here let me have a go.’ He took over kneading with the sure touch of an expert and told me that he had been a master baker till he was made redundant and got a job with Chubb. I learnt so much from him in twenty minutes! Amongst the tips was that the amount of olive oil I was using was too much for the flour, and my olive and garlic etc., bread has been better ever since!” From ‘Suppers' P.72
Why I thought this was so apt for today was the way in which from something unexpected came something ordinary and how the ordinary everyday event of making bread became something extraordinary. It can’t be everyone who is taught to make better bread by the fire extinguisher man! Nor is it common place to be told by a prophet that he is the ‘bread of life’!
Bread, ‘which earth has given and human hands have made’ – to quote our Eucharistic liturgy- sustains our physical bodies but as Jesus says in order to sustain the spiritual body you have to eat of the bread of eternal life. For it is the bread of heaven that contains life not the stuff made from cereal. Ordinary bread like the manna from heaven given to the Israelites in the wilderness stops the physical hunger we all experience but it is only by communion with the ‘bread of life’, Jesus himself, that the spiritual hunger can be sated. Through the Eucharist we are fed spiritually for as we receive the body of Christ we allow his spirit to permeate our whole being.
How often have you, like me, come to the Eucharist ‘out of sorts’ or at your ‘wits end’ and have left after receiving Holy Communion feeling restored, calmer, renewed and able to go on? Familiar?
This is part of what the Eucharist is about for in receiving Holy Communion we are strengthened and supported by Christ. Whether or not you believe that the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Christ or that in someway they represent his body and blood is your choice, so long as you recognise that in receiving communion you come into an intimate relationship with Jesus.
When you come to communion remember that in doing so you are allowing Christ to love you and to work his ways of love through you. As you return to the world outside your Church building try and share God’s love with those who are seeking to be loved and spiritually fed as you have been.