Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Give Us This Day our Daily Bread...

The different religious groups in Palestine in the first century, like many groups today, were known by the prayers they offered. Jesus’ disciples wanted the same thing so Jesus obliged. If we read our Bibles then we know that Luke’s Jesus prayed a lot. But Jesus’ prayers, and the prayer he taught his disciples, were not individualistic, pietistic supplications. They were community prayers; prayers on actualizing God’s reign on earth. In the Gospel of Luke and its sequel, the Acts of the Apostles, the test of one’s relationship with God was proven by one’s relationship with people, especially the poor, the orphans, and the widows; those whose only was God. The test of one’s love for God is proven by one’s love for one’s neighbor.

When Luke’s Jesus prays, “Give us this day our daily bread,” he was lifting up a peasant’s petition for today’s food, echoing the farmer’s prayer for daily sustenance in the book of Proverbs; he was mouthing the hope of the dispossessed farmers for land and the dream of the daily wage earners for justice; he was also declaring explicitly whose side God was on.

When Luke’s Jesus prays, “Give us this day our daily bread,” he does not expect the powerful landlords of his time to distribute the lands they have amassed; he does not expect the Roman or Jewish courts to pass laws that protect the poor and the dispossessed; he does not expect the rich to sell everything they have, give the proceeds to the poor, and follow him…

When Luke’s Jesus prays, “Give us this day our daily bread,” he celebrates the peasants’ sharing of the little they had, even rising at midnight to give three loaves of bread to a persistent friend in need; he affirms poor communities’ capacity to share meals and all things in common, selling their meager possessions, and distributing the proceeds to all, as they had need; he believes that God’s reign has come and God has chosen to reveal it among shepherds, among the poor, the imprisoned, and the oppressed…

We, those who take pride in calling ourselves Christian, do not have the monopoly on bread. The bread that can meet the world’s hunger is the bread we cook together. Each one contributing what each can. Because we—Christian or not—are each other’s keepers.

God’s shalom is food for the hungry, drink for the thirsty, just wages for teachers and laborers, decent homes for the homeless, justice for the oppressed, care for the elderly, the sick and the dying, land for the tenants of Hacienda Luisita and millions of other dispossessed farmers, freedom for the Morong 43 and other political prisoners, solidarity with those whose only hope is God.

Last Monday, July 26, many of us were given the privilege to join those whom God has chosen to side with: the farmers, the fisherfolk, the laborers, indigenous peoples, the masses… outside congress for the People’s SONA. They taught us a lot. We still have much to learn from them. They will teach us how to cook bread for the world, together. They will teach us how to struggle for life, for justice, for liberty, and for land.

More importantly, they are the only ones who can really show us what it means to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.”