Christ himself told us that he is “the bread of life”, and scripture attests he is the Word who was with God, and who was God.
These two claims that are the basis of our faith are statements woven throughout scripture and our theological beliefs. They echo from Advent, when God’s salvation plan for His people is foretold by the prophets with the promise that the Messiah would come from the City of David, and continue through the earthly ministry of Christ from his birth, death, and resurrection.
Christ’s existence as the bread of life and the Word come together, in identical words, twice in scripture. First in the Old Testament Book of Deuteronomy (8:3) : “…man does not live by bread alone, but that man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord”, which the Evangelists Matthew (4:4) and Luke (4:4) both tell us Jesus quotes, verbatim, to his tempter after 40 days of fasting in the Judean wilderness.
More significantly, the two synonymic terms for Christ come together in the Holy Eucharist. In the Blessed Sacrament, proclaimed by Blessed Pope Paul VI and the Council Fathers in Lumen Gentium 11 as “the source and summit of our faith” where through the mystery of transubstantiation, bread becomes the body of Christ, and the faithful receive the Word as this life giving bread.
Indeed, prophecy was fulfilled with the birth of Christ in the City of David. Even more amazingly, the Hebrew name of that town where Jesus was born, bêt-leḥem, means House of Bread!
The Rood at Our Lady and the English Martyrs, Cambridge. Note at the feet of Christ the host and chalice of the Eucharist. There are many scripture references in this portrayal, even though it does not show a ‘realistic’ crucifixion in earthly terms. This could be a meditation on Hebrews: notice the pallium on the Lord’s shoulders: a sign that he is the Lamb as well as the Good Shepherd; he is also priest and King … look on, and see more.
A different festive bread to that of Passover, the traditional English harvest loaf expresses thanks for the crops safely gathered in, and the offering of ourselves and all that sustains us in God’s earth.