Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jn 6:24-35
August 1, 2021

During a recent visit, a friend shared memories of his Italian grandmother. He recalled how, although her English was limited, she was always able to make herself understood.

He spoke about her skills in the kitchen (of course he would…she was an Italian gramma) and her ability to make a feast out of a few simple ingredients.

The subject of food triggered another recollection.

He could not remember the Italian, but he recalled the English translation of an expression she often used. When speaking about someone she admired, she would say:

He’s as good as a piece of bread!

After he left, I googled it. It took only seconds to find a posting authored by another grandchild with a heart filled with memories of a much-loved grandmother. “Words of Nona” portrays 10 Italian pearls of wisdom. Each uses “bread” to communicate something highly significant in the simplest but most meaningful of ways. At the very top of the list was:

“Essere buono come il pane!”

The literal translation is: To be as good as bread.

In the article, the author talks about the absolute delight in eating a piece of fresh baked bread, still warm from the oven. In her opinion, “if a person is as good as that, it’s really the best you can get.” So, when my friend’s grandmother declared that a person was “as good as a piece of bread,” she was offering high praise.

But I wonder if this folk wisdom was inspired at the kitchen table…or at the Communion table?

Consider this:

When God the Father was eager to communicate unlimited and unconditional love for humankind…he sent God the Son into our world.

When Jesus was preparing to return to the Father, he made certain that the Divine message of forgiveness, healing, peace, and love would continue to be heard.

With the simplest of ingredients, he prepared the most lavish of feasts. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, ordinary bread and wine are transformed into the Bread of Life…and the cup of our salvation…the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

When we come to the Communion table, pure of heart and with an appetite for holiness, we are completely satisfied. We will not go away hungry, and we become what we eat.

Then, we are sent out into the world to continue to proclaim the Creator’s message of forgiveness, healing, peace, and love.

Through the Eucharist, we are entrusted with the message that Jesus was sent to deliver.

Through the Eucharist, we become “Christ bearers.”

Through the Eucharist, we are empowered to be God’s instrument of communication.

In my opinion, it is then that a person is truly as good as a piece of bread, because it is then that we are what we have consumed…the Bread of Life…the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

That is really the best you can get!