I was thinking about whether to put a loaf of whole grain bread into the refrigerator or leave it out this morning. I decided to leave it out. After all, I half-wittingly joked to myself… ‘Eating moldy bread is good for the soul.’ But is it really?
On a medical-scientific side, it could be good for the body; mold gives us penicillin, a medicine used to cure a variety of infections. Thank you Alexander Fleming for your serendipitous discovery! Nonetheless, moldy bread reminds me of the fact that the things in this world are passing away.
Some questions might be asked, such as, why is there mold in the first place? Why are there bacteria and other kinds of parasites that cause sickness? Why doesn’t bread last forever –why can’t I buy a loaf of bread and come back to it in a year to find it just as good as I left it? Who don’t we –why will all my love ones eventually pass on?
With modern preservatives, I suppose it’s possible that bread can last a really long time, but not forever, and most people wouldn’t want to eat it with that many preservatives anyway. Frozen bread will eventually go bad too. As for people however, some do seem to last forever, at least in physical form. Some saints have incorruptible bodies.
This brings me to an important point: without God, all things in this world will pass away. He created them and created the means for their sustenance or destruction, their resurrection or damnation. St. John, whose feast day we celebrated yesterday, reminds us in the Book of Revelation that all things in this world are passing away. The rust on the sink of this hotel further shows the work of entropy in this heaven and earth. But the Good News is that God will create a New Heaven and New Earth at the end of time, a time only the Father knows, when entropy no longer plays a dominant role.
Nonetheless, there is one bread that does last for forever, one I attempt to feast on everyday –the Bread of Life, Jesus Himself. He gives sustenance to my spirit and helps me strive to live a Holy life, not only through obedience to His commands and through what the Church teaches, but through grace. To the best of my ability, I show my love for Him. After all, being my Creator, and the Creator of all things, He sets the rules for how long things will last, and the means for their passing away, especially me.
Many people are deceived in thinking that if they are loving people they will be living in obedience to God. While love is the basis for our life with Him, it’s not our standard of what loving is that determines our righteousness in His eyes. If we seek to love God, we must seek to understand Him and what He asks of us. Sure, loving our family and friends is great, but He also said that He should come before all else and that sometimes a sword between relationships is more important than peace if they stand in our way to closer union with Him. Consider Abraham being asked to sacrifice his son Isaac… consider the love the Father has for the Son, a perfect love, and yet the love they have for us in that the Son was willing to suffer and die to deliver us from the wages of sin. Along this line, God loves us no matter what.
There are some people who live in a way that demonstrates that they may have been born in a barn, and I’m not speaking from a sexual immorality standpoint (though God have mercy on the “Adult Entertainment” industry), but in the sense that they show no level of love beyond the animals. Does not the ape or the bear also care for its young? Does not the wolf care for others in the pack? One animal that doesn’t care for its young, however, is the snake.
Human beings are called to a higher love. We’re made in His image and can know our Creator in a personal way; we can choose to love Him or not, to follow instinct or rise above it when appropriate. Through our love with Him, we’re called to love one another as we should love ourselves. Our body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit, a temple for God to dwell in, a temple for us to worship the author of Being itself, together.
How ironic that our Savior was born in a stable, on the same level as many animals. He had the right and capability to surround Himself with gold and silver, diamonds and pearls, fine linens, foods and air conditioning… but He didn’t. He brought Himself down, right to our most basic level so that even if we’re no different in the way we love then many animals, we can also learn to love as we should. We can accept that we’ve been forgiven and in so doing demonstrate humility, acknowledging that He knows what’s right and wrong better than we do. We can continue learning more about Him and the love He has for us; we can love Him and others, and all of creation, as we should.
Think about this the next time you’re considering whether to put your loaf of bread in the fridge… or if you forgot and it’s already too late.
I hope you’ve been enjoying a very happy Christmas!