Homilette for Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thursday of the Third Week of Easter

(Acts 8:26-40; John 6:44-51)

In The Omnivore’s Dilemma food activist Michael Pollan criticizes the American industrial-agricultural system. He says that it has caused corn to far outdistance wheat as the American dietary mainstay. He cites statistics and personal experience to show how farmers are encouraged to grow ever increasing amounts of corn to be fed to livestock and to be processed into human food. Pollan’s analysis raises the question whether Jesus, if he were to preach today, would say, “I am the bread of life.”

Probably he would! Whatever the popularity of corn, well-made bread is both nutritious and delectable. Jesus also challenges assumptions like “the more, the better” and “what is convenient is also preferable.” He makes himself bread to be eaten at the Eucharist, but this bread is something different from the bread we consume at table. As the gospel says, we do not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. Jesus comes from God as the source of eternal life that brings back to Him.

Because they are turned into the body and blood of Christ, churches should choose quality bread and wine for the Eucharist. For a while many parishes made their own bread for the altar table. That practice often has proven impractical, but still parishes can purchase hosts which have the appearance and texture of well-made bread. Likewise, they should avoid cheap wine for consecration. Pricey wines are unnecessary, but good wine made available in sufficient quantities for all who care to drink of the precious blood is imminently called for.