Money. Sadly, to many minds at any time that’s really what makes the world go ’round. Speaking of the same, I found out recently that there are around 180 different types of currency in the world. These include the Albanian “lech” and the Moroccan “dirham” and the Zambian “kwacha.”
But most of us are more likely to know the slang terms for the US dollar than any of those. Do you know where at least 2 of those terms come from, namely “bread” or “dough?”
We’ve all heard those, even though their usage may have largely faded from our conversations, but is very much alive in vintage gangster movies. It all sprang from our basic need for nutrition, which is something very im- portant. The term “breadwinner,” used commonly from the 1940s onward, took this idea and ran with it. The term “bread” was directly tied with someone who earned money. From there, it’s easy to see how “bread,” and subsequently “dough” came into common usage.
Such thinking would have been completely foreign to that long ago crowd of 5,000 men (not counting women and children) gathered around Jesus on that fine day long ago. For them, bread was almost a sacred thing. Certainly it was part of their basic and simple diet. Bread is mentioned 492 times in the origi- nal languages of the Bible, and so it is easy to see how important bread was to everyday life in those times. To reduce it to slang for something so mundane as money would have been unthinkable for them.
A huge crowd had followed Jesus, even though He needed a rest. Why did they? Because they had seen the “signs” (John’s chosen synonym for “miracles”) that Jesus had performed for the sick. Perhaps una- ble to express it, they had also followed Him because of an inner hunger for truth. The truth about life; its purpose and its terminus; and how best to live the time in between.
For now He would take care of their stomachs. Later, Jesus would care for their souls by offering them the whole Truth. Christian missionaries always build a well, or a feeding kitchen or a medicine dispensa- ry before they start to preach.
Note that all 4 evangelists record this event, because they saw it as so pivotal a moment. It was the guar- antor of the Eucharist, a far greater miracle that would feed all the succeeding generations into the mil- lions including ourselves. Time, space, and numbers are no obstacles to God’s will or His word. Believ- ing that enables our thoughts to focus on the Mass, the quiet miracle among us that often isn’t so named or listed among others like Lourdes, Fatima or Guadalupe.
Simple but supernatural. Invisible change more real than rain. Jesus still cares for His people and nour- ishes us with spiritual food and drink using the instruments of bread and wine. The Eucharist is the Church’s one true treasure, so easily available to us in the so-called “First World” that we must guard against apathy and pray for our sisters and brothers in the so-called “Third World” who either do not have easy access to it, or none at all. With persecution added.
Here are some thoughts on all of this from the great Saint Thomas More, the English chancellor who was executed by the very same Henry VIII who had picked him for the office, but had to silence Thomas for his opposition to Henry’s’ claim to be head of the Church in England.
He is responding by letter to a friend about what the Eucharist means for him: “Your reasons for wanting me to stay away from Holy Communion are exactly the ones which cause me to go so often. My distractions are great, but it is in Communion that I recollect myself. I have temptations many times a day; by daily Communion I get the strength to overcome them. I have much very important business to handle and I need light and wisdom; it is for this reason that I go to Holy Communion every day to consult Jesus about them.”
God love you, and give you His peace.