Memorial of Saints Joachim and Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The Lord gave them bread from heaven.
This is the psalm refrain in today’s Liturgy of the Word. Besides being a food staple, bread also carries with it profound symbolism. We break bread together in a sign of community. We experience in the Eucharist the Bread of Life. And bread, like dewfall, fed the Israelites in the desert, as told in today’s reading from the Book of Exodus.
The Gospel today is the story of the sowing of seed, some that grows to yield a hundredfold. Again, here is a powerful image of being fed, being sustained by the graciousness of God.
This is also the Feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, the traditionally named parents of Mary, and I can’t help but think of my own parents, Bill and Kimmy, who did more than feed and house us. They were that “bread from heaven.” They sowed seeds of love, of honesty, of kindness, of strength into each of their nine children. I cherish that no matter when my father might return home from the office, we always sat at the table together to eat dinner. That table, like an altar, was where we were fed with much more than bread. It was where we knew we were a family, where we were loved and taught about living a life of integrity and faith. Did every seed they sowed fall on good ground in us and take root? No, but they never gave up.
What is sometimes lost in these stories is that the seed that grows into fruit or grain contains within it the seeds of life for the next generation. The life given to us is a life we must share with others. We become the “bread from heaven” for those with whom we live and work, for those we encounter at the store or on the sidewalk. What we have received, we freely offer to others. The bread we receive, we break and give away. Bread is not meant for the store shelf or behind a bakery’s window. Bread only becomes bread when it feeds the hungry.
Robert Hotz is a consultant with American City Bureau, Inc. and was the Director of The Passion of Christ: The Love That Compels Campaign for Holy Cross Province.