It is no doubt the most familiar prayer of all, the “Lord’s Prayer.” It is a prayer shared by and prized by all Christians. Few if any have not committed to memory. Yet hidden within the Lord’s prayer is a mysterious word that both Greek and Biblical scholars have little agreement over, or even a clear understanding of in terms of its precise meaning.

I call it “hidden” only because most Christians do not read Greek and are unaware of the difficulties and debate surrounding the word. They simply accept that the most common English translation of the Our Father as undisputed. To them the problem is hidden.

The mysterious word occurs right in the middle of the prayer: τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον (ton arton hēmōn ton epiousion) which is rendered most usually as “give us this day our daily bread.” The problematic word is epiousion. The difficulty is that the word  seems to exist nowhere else in ancient Greek,  and that no one really knows what it means.

Even the Greek Fathers who spoke and wrote Greek as their mother-tongue were unaware of it’s exact meaning. It occurs no where else in the Bible (with the exception of the parallel passage in Luke’s version of the Our Father in Luke 11:3). It appears nowhere in wider Greek literature, whether Christian or Pagan. The early Church Father Origen, a most learned and well read man, thought that Matthew and Luke, or the early Church had “made up” or coined the term.

So, frankly, we are at a loss as to the exact and original meaning of this word! It’s actually pretty embarrassing when you think of it. Right there in the most memorable text of Christendom is a word whose meaning seems quite uncertain.

Now, to be sure, over the centuries there have been many theories and positions as to what this word is getting at. Let’s look at a  few.

  1. Grammatical Analysis- The Greek word seems to be a compound word from epi+ousios. Now epi means over, above, beyond, in addition to, or some similar superlative. Ousious refers to the substance of something. Hence, to put these words together we have something amounting to supersubstantial, or super-essential.
  2. The Eucharist – Some of the Greek and Latin Fathers thought is clearly referred to the Eucharist, and surely not to ordinary food or bread. Origien for example cites how Jesus rebuked the people in John 6 for seeking bread that perishes rather than the Bread which endures unto eternal life which is Jesus’ flesh and which he will give us. (cf Origen On Prayer 27.2) St. Cyprian too, while admitting that “bread”  can be understood simply, goes on to advance that the bread referred to here is more certainly Christ himself in the Eucharist (cf. Treatise on the Lord’s Prayer, 18).
  3. Ordinary and daily bread – St. John Chrysostom however favors a notion that the bread for which we pray is only “bread for today: Just enough for one day….Here Jesus condescends to the infirmity of our nature….[which] does not permit you to go without food….I require necessary food not a complete freedom from natural necessities….It is not for wastefulness or extravagant clothing that we pray, but only for bread and only for bread on a daily basis so as not to worry about tomorrow (Gospel of Matthew Homily 19.5)
  4. Bread for tomorrow – St. Jerome says, The word used by the Hebrews to denote supersubstantial bread is maar. I found that it means “for tomorrow” so that the meaning here is “give us this day our bread for tomorrow” that is, for the future (Commentary on Matthew 1.6.11). Many modern scholars favor this understanding as well.
  5. Supernatural bread – But St.  Jerome also says in the same place: We can also understand supersubstantial bread in another sense as bread that is above all substances and surpasses all creatures (ibid).  In this sense he also seems to see it linked to the Eucharist. When he translated the text into Latin as the Pope had asked him to do he rendered it rather literally: panem nostrum supersubstantialem da nobis hodie (give us today our supersubstantial bread). If you look up the text of Matthew 6:11 in the Douay Rheims Bible you will see the word “supersubstantial” since that English text renders the Vulgate Latin quite literally.
  6. Every good thing necessary for subsistence – The Catechism of the Catholic Church adopts an inclusive approach: Daily” (epiousios) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. Taken in a temporal sense, this word is a pedagogical repetition of “this day,” to confirm us in trust “without reservation.” Taken in the qualitative sense, it signifies what is necessary for life, and more broadly every good thing sufficient for subsistence. Taken literally (epi-ousios: “super-essential”), it refers directly to the Bread of Life, the Body of Christ, the “medicine of immortality,” without which we have no life within us. Finally in this connection, its heavenly meaning is evident: “this day” is the Day of the Lord, the day of the feast of the kingdom, anticipated in the Eucharist that is already the foretaste of the kingdom to come. For this reason it is fitting for the Eucharistic liturgy to be celebrated each day. (CCC # 2837) As such the Catechism attempts no resolution to the problem but simply indicates that several interpretations are possible and non-exclusive to one another.

In the end, an unresolved mystery - So when we have a Greek word that is used no where else and when such important and determinative Fathers struggle to understand it and show forth rather significant disagreement,  we are surely left at a loss. It seems clear that we have something of a mystery.

Reverencing the Mystery – But perhaps the Lord intended that we should ponder this text and see a kind of multiple meaning. Surely it is right that we should pray for our worldly food. Likewise we should pray for all that is needed for subsistence, whether just for today or for tomorrow as well. And surely we should ask for the Bread of Life, the Holy Eucharist which is the necessary Bread that draws us to eternal life and which (Who) is over and above all earthly substances.

So there it is, the hidden and mysterious word in the middle of the Our Father. Most modern translations have settled on the word “daily.”  For the record, the Latin Liturgy also uses the word daily (quotidianum). But in truth no one word can capture what is said here. The Lord has left us a mystery to ponder. I know many of you who read here are learned in Greek, Latin, the Fathers, and Scripture scholarship, and I am interested in your thoughts. This article is incomplete and has not covered every possible facet of the argument. I leave that you,  all who wish to comment.

68 Responses

  1. Aloysius Duque says:

    Msgr. Isnt it God’s Holy Will!!! The food of Jesus…….

  2. Linus says:

    It certainly would not be wrong to view meaning in its broadest extent, give us all necessary to salvation and our physical well being.

    • phi says:

      What is then necessary? Is is bread, or Eucharist?
      Such arguments seem to me common amongst evangelicals whose tendency for oversimplification often miss the dynamism of Scripture. Having made a verse say so much it winds up saying far too little.
      An example might be “Blessed are you among women.” Surely, the term “blessed” may be held to mean that Mary is quite special (happy?) in all the feminine world. Yet, that meaning opens the door to the Protestant interpretation of her being quite ordinary, just the one selected by God for a mission.
      When the same term is applied to “the fruit of thy womb,” we recognize an entirely more specific and divinely ordained role. It is from such a term that our veneration is derived.

    • EJ Jonna says:

      Hello, I am a Chaldean Rite Catholic who speaks and reads modern Aramaic/ Syriac. The term for “our daily bread” in Aramaic refers to our needy bread. Needy bread for a transformed Christian (Baptized) cannot be only earthy food, because a true Christian needs supernatural, heavenly food, to sustain him or her on their earthy journey. Jesus reminds in Luke’s Gospel that we must depend on Him and seek the kingdom of God, which is far more important than just food and clothing (Lk 12:22-34). He also reminds in John’s Gospel that our ancestors ate manna in the desert and died (Jn 6:41-59). The Eucharist is true food and true drink which gives one eternal life, so our needy bread is the “life giving bread of life”, Jesus, who also knows are earthly needs!

  3. Tony Lopez : Seminarian of the diocese of Yakima W.A. says:

    Our Holy Father, Papa Benedict the XVI has wrote on this same exact subject in his book “Jesus Of Nazareth” (153-157). Check it out!!! It’s amazing. The few pages will leave you chewing on some spiritual meat for days.

  4. Marc says:

    I always pray panem nostrum supersubstantialem, following the Vulgata, when not with others and, not being a cleric, I do in the office, too.

  5. Matt says:

    It’s interesting that St Jerome kept the common liturgical rendering in Luke but in Matthew (the longer) he translated the word as supersubstantialem. The Matthew rendering seems more plausible to me. There was already a word in Greek for daily and yet Jesus uses such a bizarre word. I like the CCC when is says figuratively it means life-sustaining bread.

    • Joe Church says:

      There is a tradition received by Origen and St. Epiphinias that says St. Luke was one of the 72 disciples, and among the few who abandoned our Blessed Lord at the teaching of the Eucharist in John. Only later to be converted back to the fold by St. Paul, of whom he became a disciple. Perhaps this was an influence on his writing.

  6. Jim says:

    If it is a “made up” word that appears nowhere else, then options 2-6 are more on the line of theological suppositions after the fact, albeit from some pretty great theologians. The grammatical sense may well, then, be the best key to its construction and therefore original intent; this type of combining extant words with prefixes, suffixes, or other words is a fairly common way of generating new words. It then comes out to something like “give us daily that which is above all else,” which could easily morph to “give us daily Yourself and Your Holy Spirit”, and ultimately lead to the Eucharist and the phrase “daily bread.” (But much of that admittedly is supposition itself.)

    • RichardC says:

      I like your translation a lot because it ties in with (to me) the beginning of the Our Father:

      Thy Kingdom come.
      They will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.
      Give us daily that which is above all else.

      So, that which we ask be given daily, which is above all else, can be looked on as the Divine will being done on earth, as it is in heaven. Does that make sense?

  7. RichardC says:

    “I know many of you who read here are learned in Greek, Latin, the Fathers, and Scripture scholarship”: I am none of these things, but I will tell you (all) the one thought/question I came up with. The Greek Our Father is a translation from Aramaic.-so I read. (I take it that the Our Father in the video is some poet’s/translator’s interpretation/translation.) Is there a word or phrase in Aramaic that would be difficult to render in Greek, that would require the coining of a new word, i.e. epiousion? People who have knowledge of Aramaic might be able to shed light on this question is the thought that I came up with.

    • Justin says:

      Good insight Richard. I was in a similar manner. Perhaps there is a cognate in the Aramaic. Or perhaps, this is not a made up word at all. Perhaps this actually is the Aramaic word. Since there was no Greek word to substitute, the translator may have just left the particular word in the Aramaic.

  8. CS says:

    Interesting word philosophically and theologically. Epiousia would directly translate into supersubstance (over and above substance?). The more I meditate on it, the more it seems like the whole Our Father is an unpacking of the Divine Liturgy.

  9. Bill says:

    Might I sugest you consult with a metaphysicist – and a very good one at that.

  10. Br. Peter says:

    Here’s something I once heard: In Aramaic, particularly in the first century, there was an idiom which had the second occurrence of the word “today” in a sentence mean “tomorrow”. So if we were to say (in first century Aramaic) “I need to put this mail in the mailbox today for the mailman to pick up today”, they would mean for the mailman to pick it up tomorrow. Since Christ likely spoke the Our Father in Aramaic to begin with, the evangelists were left to try to capture this idiom in their Greek translation.  And a direct translation would not capture what Christ intended, so we end up with a unique word. The bread of tomorrow is the eschatological bread, the supersubstantial bread of which we partake today, in the holy sacrifice of the Mass. 

    • Justin says:

      Good insight Br. Peter. I was thinking that it could perhaps be a cognate or the exact word from the Aramaic, but an idiom would be another good possibility.

  11. Dismas says:

    Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses.

    I’ve never been aware of this word, but when praying Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses in the Our Father I know that our trespasses are only forgiven by the sacrifice of Christs’ body and blood on the Cross…the Eucharist…the Mass. (In a state of grace after confession.)

    What shocks me is, until now, it never occurred to me or have I ever heard this proposed in defending the true presence: Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Great stuff, both the article and the true presence!

  12. JOHN BAINES says:

    For me its the daily Eucharist,daily food and daily sufferings offered up!

  13. Stephen from New Ortleans says:

    This is an interesting topic in linguistics,,,but as long as God knows what we need every day and the Holy Spirit communicates on our behalf in unintelligible grumblings, our prayer is efficacious.

    Since we’re talking about trees and not the forest here… why, in the Hail Mary, does this grammatical in congruence occur?

    “Pray for us (plural) sinners (plural) now and at the hour of our (plural) death (singular)”

    In Latin, shouldn’t there be agreement in number?

    • Paul F says:

      It’s one of those odd things in English, Stephen: even though the collective is used in the subject, no one of us has more than one death. You see the same logic obtaining when a poem will speak of “our hands,” but only of “our heart.”

      • Stephen from New Ortleans says:

        Thanks Paul, I have to admit that when I started wondering about that triviality, I was at Mass one day and should have been paying more attention to renewing my participation in the New Covenant and participating in the body of Christ instead of being a thousand miles away in a daydream. That’s not where those years of Latin in high school were supposed to lead me…Oh well.

  14. Luke Ogar says:

    Msgr, what’s the Aramaic equivalent of the “hidden” word. If Jesus spoke Aramaic, there should be some early apostolic writings concerning this issue in Aramaic

    • well we can really only guess what the Aramaic would would have been. Thus at some level, except when speculating, we ought to stay with what the inspired Greek text says. That is the textus receptus and thus the one the Lord wants us to ponder. Don’t get me wrong, specualtion is not wrong, but it is only speculation and in the end we are commenting on what we really don’t know rather than what we DO know, which is that the Greek word is epiousion.

      • Blake Helgoth says:

        So what do you make of the Fathers saying Matthew wrote on Hebrew or Aramaic? Wouldn’t that language then be the inspired one, not the Greek?

        • Well, the Church would have to have it in the first place, then of course it would have to be authenticated for it to be considered inspired. So there is a theoretical possibility of what you say, but it is all theoretical. FOr what ever reason, the Lord has not provided the Aramaic text that may underlie the Greek.

  15. Jim from Utah says:

    The fact is that the phrase’ daily bread’ is a Catholic Tradition and clearly not in the all so holy and infalliable original Greek. I think if I were a consistent non-Catholic Christian I would be compelled to adore the Eucharist. That is, if I had the knowledge of the actual original Greek, and not just another conveniently (ab)used original Greek.

    Now, that I am here, what in the world is wrong with the original Greek ‘Old Testament’? How is it that so many modern ‘Biblical’ scholars study on 12th and 16th century Hebraic manuscripts and scraps of paper found in caves alongside Gnostic texts, but never for the life of me do they ever seem to have an original Greek ‘Old Testament’ translation?

    I guess the answer is: Jerome already did all that (you know a guy who was there when they put the thing together!) and produced with the authority of the holy Father the actual Bible and not just a translation. I can find no fault (no lack) in the Vulgate. It is a text that stands head and shoulders above others. Even that horrendous Nova Vulgata thing that was shoved down our throats is a terrible fabricated digestive.

    • Why the attitude stuff? e.g. “All so holy and infallible original Greek” Also, why the Catholic/Protestant stuff, since we all use the phrase “daily bread” ?? I like the old vulgate too, but there have been older and more numerous manscripts found since the time of St. Jerome which do in fact help to clear up ambiguities and conflicts among some of the ancient manuscripts. One might make some place for those discoveries, no? I will not render an opinion on the Nova Vulgata per se since I am unaware of all the “horrendus” changes to which you refer and have never studied what and why those changes are.

  16. Kirk says:

    Read this and pondered it but then gave up. So I began to pray the Divine Mercy. Lo and behold I could not finish or remember the Lords prayer. I kept adding after, our daily bread, “which we are about to recieve”. I could not get back on track. The only thing I can get from this is we have no say in our daily bread. It is His will what we recieve and it is coming no matter what. But I don’t like that it means nothing of the Eucarist.

  17. Patrick says:

    I too was thinking along these lines: “Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work.’”

    It is all about God’s will; that’s the bottom line. Our own “daily bread” may be not only the carrying out of God’s will but perhaps even the desire for it. I think so especially that this follows immediately after the prayer that God’s will be done.

  18. New Catholic says:

    It seems that all the specific topics discussed in the “Our Father are of a spiritual nature: Our Father, Who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.” To include “daily bread”, as meaning mundane food for the stomach, seems to be out of context. That would be like listing abstract concepts and including “a sandwich for lunch” in the list. As a convert from evangelicalism, I have only recently come to the awareness of Eucharist and think “super-substantial, or super-essential” refer most fittingly to Eucharist, the bread of life.

  19. Russ says:

    St. Thomas Aquinas wrote in Summa Theologica: “Give us this day our daily bread,” whether we understand this of the sacramental Bread, the daily use of which is profitable to man, and in which all the other sacraments are contained, or of the bread of the body, so that it denotes all sufficiency of food, as Augustine says (ad Probam, Ep. cxxx, 11), since the Eucharist is the chief sacrament, and bread is the chief food: thus in the Gospel of Matthew we read, “supersubstantial,” i.e. “principal,” as Jerome expounds it.

    Think about it — Supersubstantial and Transubstantial. From where do you think the term transubstantial came? Changing ordinary bread and ordinary wine into the super-substance; i.e., Jesus’ flesh and blood!

    In “Mysterium Fidei: Encyclical on the Holy Eucharist,” written by Pope Paul VI (September 3, 1965): Nothing has ever been or is more important to the Church or more consoling than the desire for the unity of all Christians, a desire which we wish to express once again in the very words used by the Council of Trent at the close of its decree on the Most Blessed Eucharist: “In conclusion, the sacred synod with paternal love admonishes, exhorts, prays and implores ‘through the merciful kindness of our God’[73] that each and every Christian come at last to a perfect agreement regarding this sign of unity, this bond of charity, this symbol of concord, and, mindful of such great dignity and such exquisite love of Christ Our Lord who gave His beloved soul as the price of our salvation and ‘his flesh to eat’[74] believe and adore these sacred mysteries of His Body and Blood with such firm and unwavering faith, with such devotion, piety and veneration, that they can receive frequently that SUPER-SUBSTANTIAL bread,[75] which will be for them truly the life of the soul and unfailing strength of mind, so that fortified by its vigor[76] they can depart from this wretched pilgrimage on earth to reach their heavenly home where they will then eat the same ‘bread of angels’[77] no longer hidden by the species which now they eat under the sacred appearances.”[78]

  20. les says:

    the thought occured to me that since Jesus is fuly human and fully divine, so shouldnt what we call the Eucharist be the same…, fully of earth and of Christ, and without that, it isn’t our Daily Bread?

  21. Elaine Guidry says:

    I have understood these words in the Our Father to mean all of this… what I need to sustain my physical life today, my spiritual life today (inspiration from the Holy Spirit reminding me of Jesus’ words and the fullness of the Holy scriptures, God’s will for my life and the life of the world), as well as the Eucharist. I believe that Jesus gave us this prayer to lead us into the majesty of all that the Father is, all that the Son has done for us, all that the Holy Spirit is and does for us in pointing to Jesus, convincing us of truth, convicting the world of sin (and ourselves, too) and convincing us of the Lordship of Jesus and the victory he has won for us. This is to be lived out in our lives each day, as we acknowledge the majestic soverignty of Our Father in heaven, hold holy his Name, seek to do his will in ourselves and for the salvation of the world, revealing the Gospel in our lives. Asking for our daily supersubstantial bread is essential to living out the gospel, living the Lord’s prayer. The supersubstantial bread living in us is our protection from the evil one. Jesus and the Father dwelling in us as we obey him as he promised in the Gospel of John.. today’s mass reading. Praise the Living God who continues to unravel within our hearts the mystery… Christ in us our hope of glory.

  22. Justin says:

    Msgr., Thank you so much for posting this topic. This has caused me to reflect deeply on the Lord’s Prayer, and I will be praying it with a different spiritual insight. This is indeed a great mystery of faith that is very deserving of contemplation.

  23. Brian Kelly says:

    I have always wondered why St. Jerome rendered epiousion “daily” in Luke and “supersubstantial” in Matthew, since the same word is used in the Greek. And it was in Greek after all that the New Testament was inspired. The word “substance” is used in Hebrews in its philosophical meaning of “complete being” or that which “exists in itself” as opposed to “accidents” which inhere in a substance and do not exist on their own. “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the figure of his substance, and upholding all things by the word of his power, making purgation of sins, sitteth on the right hand of the majesty on high.” (Heb 1:3) Therefore, it would seem that the Jews of Our Lord’s time, who were educated in Greek and far from illiterate as some imagine today, were acquainted with this word. St. Paul certainly was. On the other hand, if the word was directly infused into the minds of Saints Matthew and Luke — a new word coined by the Holy Spirit let us say? — it is all the more evident that it refers to the Holy Eucharist, for, as you note Father, the word is a compound meaning “over and above” (epi) substance (ousia). Add to that that Our Lord taught His disciples not to pray for such things as food and garments: “Be not solicitous therefore, saying, What shall we eat: or what shall we drink, or wherewith shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the heathens seek. For your Father knoweth that you have need of all these things.” (Matthew 6:32). Give thanks for these things, most certainly, and for all the good things God provides daily, but it seems that we ought not to be anxious over these things, unless we be deprived of them by way of a chastisement by famine, the we offer prayers with penance.

  24. bj says:

    I’m no expert on any of this. I’m really just a plain ole ordinary guy. But when I pray the Lord’s prayer I always took the words “daily bread” to be a metaphor for “what ever it is You think we need, Father, and nothing more, nothing less”.

    I don’t know, seems like it fits.

    • Justin says:

      bj, that is how I always thought of the prayer as well. The word, “epiousion,” gives us clear evidence that there is a deeper spiriual meaning worth contemplation here. I know that it will change the way that I pray the Lord’s Prayer.

      • Justin says:

        spiritual*

        • bj says:

          definitely worthy of contemplation, but simplicity is spirituality at its finest. most of the time, when people try to make it complicated it feeds their, “smartest guy in the room” complex.

  25. Sabu Augustine says:

    Is the daily bread akin to “Daily Manna” which was provided to the Jews during their sojourn in the desert for 40 years. It might make sense that as because Saints and mystics agree that our sojourn on Earth is the journey to the “Promised Land” similar to the wandering of the Jews in the desert for 40 years, so too the Daily Bread or the Holy Eucharist is manna for our souls to enable us spiritually to reach Heaven.

  26. Máire says:

    If the Greek word “epiousios” implies our daily bread is our “super-essential substance from above ” I agree with the suggestion of previous commentators, that it is meant in both a metaphysical sense as in – the Lord is our “manna” from above and our Father will give us both spiritual aid for the travails of our daily life and that it also refers, on another level, to His provision for our daily physical needs ( just as God provided “manna” for His people in the desert with Moses).Even though we are in the natural world before we say the Lord’s prayer, we are lifted to the realm of the supernatural upon recitation of this prayer when we fully comprehend it’s meaning. It is truly enlightening to discover the depth of meaning implicit in the Lord’sprayer. Thank you for this wonderfully edifying article Charles.

  27. Dominic says:

    I have a little Latin and a little less Greek, but this is the definition in Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon:

    επιουσιος, ον, for the coming day, sufficient for the day, N.T. From ´η επιουσα (´ημερα) the coming day.

    “the coming day” may tie in with what a previous contributor said about the suble temporal change in meaning of the Aramaic word if used twice in a sentence.

  28. Hieronymus says:

    Along with Marc, when I pray in Latin I also say “panem nostrum supersubstantialem” because this translation by St. Jerome opens wonderful vistas into the mystery of the transsubstantiation and many other mysteries of faith. We may note in passing that “epiousion” is not the only mysterious word in the Bible. The Old Testament has several, for example, “tohu va bohu” in the Book of Genesis 1:2 (commonly approximated as “formless and empty”) or “Urim and Thummim” in the Book of Exodus.

  29. Liz Bell says:

    Interesting insights to explain the mystery. But who can truly explain a mystery. I vote for #2. Have always thought of it that way. The Blessed Holy Eucharist. Everyday! Whether spiritually or at Mass. Our sweet Jesus is always waiting to come to us. The Branch to the Vine. PS: haven’t we added substantiate to the Creed? Any connection? God bless,

  30. Steve M says:

    In a round about way isn’t this evidence for the existance of God? Only a Loving God would leave us puzzles and mysteries like this that humans can talk about and work on for centuries and never fully get to the final solution until we come to Him. How many thoughtful men and women have read and talked about this same word for generations and have yet to run out of beautiful and interesting ways to think about it. The Church wraps this thinking in boundaries to keep us from straying to far afield and into sinful areas but that still leaves an infinite amount of room to find the beauty and truth.

    Thank you Msgr Pope for another view into the Infinitely Complex and Infinitely Beautiful.

  31. Father Canu says:

    I like to pray the “pater hemôn” in Greek. The obvious etymological meaning is good enough for me.

  32. Shari says:

    Well, I am no scholar, but only a reader of the commentaries of folks who are, but I do love Clarke’s approach, which involves a historical evaluation of the roots of the words.

    http://clarke.biblecommenter.com/matthew/6.htm

    “Give us this day our daily bread – The word επιουσιαν has greatly perplexed critics and commentators. I find upwards of thirty different explanations of it. It is found in no Greek writer before the evangelists, and Origen says expressly, that it was formed by them, αλλ’ εοικε πεπλασθαι υπο των ευαγγελιστων. The interpretation of Theophylact, one of the best of the Greek fathers, has ever appeared to me to be the most correct, Αρτος επι τη ουσιᾳ και συστασει ημων αυταρκης, Bread, sufficient for our substance and support, i.e. That quantity of food which is necessary to support our health and strength, by being changed into the substance of our bodies. Its composition is of επι and ουσια, proper or sufficient for support. Mr. Wakefield thinks it probable, that the word was originally written επι ουσιαν, which coalesced by degrees, till they became the επιουσιον of the MSS. There is probably an allusion here to the custom of travelers in the east, who were wont to reserve a part of the food given them the preceding evening to serve for their breakfast or dinner the next day. But as this was not sufficient for the whole day, they were therefore obliged to depend on the providence of God for the additional supply. In Luke 15:12, Luke 15:13, ουσια signifies, what a person has to live on; and nothing can be more natural than to understand the compound επιουσιος, of that additional supply which the traveler needs, to complete the provision necessary for a day’s eating, over and above what he had then in his possession. “

  33. Crowhill says:

    “Give us this day our super-essential” wouldn’t scan quite as well, I guess.

  34. Fiat33 says:

    “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” I agree with Aloysius that the the bread we seek and need daily is the “Divine Will of the Father”. The previous line in the Our Father is “Thy Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven” and it is this “bread” of God’s Will for our lives that we seek daily and this Will of God for us is all that matters and it will bring with it all that we need for our spiritual life (the Bread of the Eucharist) and all that we need for our temporal existence (the bread of our daily sustenance). To get a good understanding of this read Luisa Piccaretta’s “Book of Heaven” and Jesus explains this beautifully. Blessings in His Will.

  35. Irenaeus of New York says:

    From Fr. Haydock’s commentary -
    SS. Hippolitus and Epiphanius say, that hearing from our Lord these words, “he that eateth not my flesh, and drinketh not my blood, is not worthy of me”, he withdrew, and quitted our Saviour, but returned to the faith at the preaching of S. Paul.

    It is then interesting that Luke was the one to use supersubstantialem…..

  36. Robertlifelongcatholic says:

    And thus became the expression, “It’s all Greek to me.”

  37. Mary says:

    Sometimes I believe we “over think” the simplest of God’s words. In this case, God’s “daily bread” IS the “will of God” and because we do not, nor will we ever, really know God we cannot find an adequate word to describe it. The word does not exist, nor can it be explained away because God’s will cannot always be explained or seen either. At least that is what I believe is going on here.

    This does not mean we know nothing about God. We do know that God wants us to find Him in our hearts, feel His presence and show Him to others by our own actions.

    So I pray, O Heavenly “Father, give me this day”, and all the days of my life, “your daily bread” or Your will for me through Your Word, so that I can SEE You and be comforted by Your presence; so that I can KNOW You within my heart more each day and have peace beyond man’s understanding and so that by my ACTIONS, others will see You clearly and believe. Lord allow me to SEE through Your eyes, HEAR with Your ears and FEEL with Your heart to UNDERSTAND Your will for me and accomplish it. Give me this day, and every day, my daily bread so that I may do Your will in Your way and give You praise and honor for it.

    I pray this each and every day through Your Son, Jesus the Christ, My Savior, Amen.

  38. Luis Marasigan says:

    Aloysius Duque, RichardC, Patrick and Fiat33 are all correct. Jesus to the Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta: “And when my ‘Fiat Voluntas Tua’ has its fulfillment ‘on earth as it is in Heaven’, then will the complete fulfillment of the second part of the Our Father occur – that is, ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’ I said: ‘Our Father, in the name of all, I ask You for three kinds of bread every day: the bread of your Will, or rather, more than bread, because if bread is necessary two or three times a day, this one is necessary at each moment and in all circumstances. Even more, it must be not only bread, but like balsamic air that brings life – the circulation of the Divine Life in the creature. Father, if this bread of your Will is not given, I will never be able to receive all the fruits of my Sacramental Life, which is the second bread we ask of You every day. Oh! how my Sacramental Life feels discomforted, because the bread of your Will does not nourish them; on the contrary, it finds the corrupted bread of the human will. Oh! how disgusting it is to Me! How I shun it! And even though I go to them, I cannot give them the fruits, the goods, the effects, the sanctity, because I do not find Our bread in them. And if I give something, it is in small proportion, according to their dispositions, but not all the goods which I contain; and my Sacramental Life is patiently waiting for man to take the bread of the Supreme Will, in order to be able to give all the good of my Sacramental Life. See then, how the Sacrament of the Eucharist – and not only that one, but all the Sacraments, left to my Church and instituted by Me – will give all the fruits which they contain and complete fulfillment, when Our bread, the Will of God, is done on earth as it is in Heaven.

  39. darrell sanders says:

    For me, as just another “regular” guy, it’s always meant spiritual food because “Man does not live by bread alone.”

  40. Russ says:

    I found a very good article written in the Catena Aurea: Matthew 6:11. It appears that the Latin and Greek Fathers had a variety of interpretations as we see in this blog article and its comments.

    “Give us this day our daily bread.”
    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/aquinas/catena1.ii.vi.html

    Jerome: We may also interpret the word ‘supersubstantialis’ otherwise, as that which is above all other substances, and more excellent than all creatures, to wit, the body of the Lord.

    Aug.: Or by “daily” we may understand spiritual, namely, the divine precepts which we ought to meditate and work.

    • .Hubert says:

      If you are looking to pray with “words” then we are all fooling ourselves and have lost the true meaning of what Jesus was saying. To just be repeating over and over again, is not what Jesus was teaching. “better one word of prayer is said from your heart, than endless prayers that are just words on top of words” Jesus was teaching us how to pray from the heart, and said to the people, “This is how you should pray”. If you look at Mathew 6:5, you will understand what he was teaching. It is not the “Words” but the truth in our hearts that he was teaching. Re-read the Mat. 6:5. Here we are trying to take apart word by word of the “Lords Prayer”, when he is teaching us to pray from the heart, not of earthly things, but spiritual. Yes researching is good for the mind, but if we skip over the essence and lesson that that “Our Lord” is saying, everything is just meaningless words. I am turning 80 years old, and from what I have learned is that “Without GOD, we can do nothing, and with GOD, we can do anything. To what point does this discussion achieve? Do not get lost in trying to interpret words, as it will lead to your doubting the Bible, and lose your faith. Which is more important? Your interpretation of words, or the teaching by our Lord? Dominus Vobiscum
      Hubert

      • Mary says:

        Hubert,

        What you say is so true. Our Lord wants a relationship with us. This means conversation/communication and not pre-fixed memorized script that was written many centuries ago. Would we speak to our best friends and family by kneeling down and using a memorized script? Don’t think so.

        Having a personal relationship with God means actually “talking” to Him as if you were face to face, in words that you understand and that mean exactly what “you mean when you mean what you say”.

        Thanks Hubert for reminding us that to glorify God means not only repeating the Words of God in praise to Him, but also SHOWING God the heart you have is continually changing itself FOR Him.

        I am Yours Lord and in me You reside; take all of me; use me up for Your glory so that when the end of my days on Earth arrive, there will literally be nothing left to return to the soil from which I was made.

  41. Ed says:

    http://www.adoremus.org/0707SupersubstantialBread.html

    The above article at Adoremus.org provides some good insights on this topic.

  42. Charles says:

    HUMBLY SPEAKING:
    I did reflect quite a time on all John 6,and I am convinced that it is not a reference to the Eucharist, for the simple reason , that it is called SUPER SUBSTANCE.

    A super substance is not subject to anything, while the Eucharist is subject to the words by the priest. It is naturally so, it is a condition which Jesus established through His death on the cross. It is also a spirit achievement, rather then matter, since it is SUPER or conjoint both spirit and matter, BUT the achievement is only through the spirit within the matter. Also it is not only to the bread, it is a general reference to the food.

    John 6:55 For my flesh is meat(FOOD) indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.

    The word meat here is for the general food.

    Therefore ,Jesus is clear that HIS FLESH AND BLOOD ARE REAL FOOD,AND REAL DRINK RESPECTIVELY.

    John 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth: the flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I have spoken to you, are spirit and life.

    So it is clear THE SPIRIT GIVES LIFE,THE MATTER COUNTS FOR NOTHING
    The words are SPIRIT AND LIFE. So it is always through the SPIRIT, EVEN IF IT IS CONJOINT WITH THE MATTER.

    John 6:26………, but because you did eat of the loaves, and were filled.

    Here Jesus is indicating that although he referred to the loaves, His reference is to the spirit, within the bread. FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT.

    Matthew 4:4 Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God.

    In the above Jesus also indicating that He is referring to the spirit, since man does not live JUST by bread alone, but from every word (SPIRIT)which comes out from God. so the bread is not just bread but also contains the spirit of Jesus HIDDEN WITHIN.

    Isaiah 55:11 So shall my word be, which shall go forth from my mouth: it shall not return to me void, but it shall do whatsoever I please, and shall PROSPER in the things for which I sent it.

    Reading above it is a reference to Jesus as God’s word which was made FLESH.

    John 6:27 Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that which endureth unto life everlasting, which the Son of man will give you. For him hath God, the Father, sealed.

    Again notice the word meat is meant FOOD,AND He never mentioned the word BREAD.

    This is quite interesting, because Jesus made a reference to the work. We all know that we work, even hard to acquire food, so Jesus is making it clear that since to eat food we must work, and also struggle, It is best if we work for the food which endures to eternal life. It is only the SPIRIT which endures for eternity and it is a reference the general food.

    The people were a bit surprised in hearing something like this, and asked

    John 6 :28 ………..What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?

    John 6: 29 ……..This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he hath sent.

    That’s how God made things simple for us, WE SIMPLY BELIEVE IN JESUS!!!!

    So again it is DEFINITELY THE SPIRIT, nothing else, so Jesus made it clear that when WE work and earn OUR FOOD, we simply believe in Him and consume it in His name and in His memory.

    Now to clarify regarding the spirit.

    Genesis 3:17 ……………cursed is the earth in thy work; with labour and toil shalt thou eat thereof all the days of thy life.
    18 Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou eat the herbs of the earth.
    19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return to the earth, out of which thou wast taken: for dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return

    According to the above, from Human’s point of view, after Adam sinned, nothing could be done. CURSED IS THE EARTH IN YOUR WORK. Notice the word work. THORNS A THISTLES SHALL IT BRINGS FORTH TO YOU. So through Adam’s work, the earth would become contaminated, so it produces contaminated food, obvious spiritual contamination from Satan’s spirit within Adam’s soul, through His sin. IN THE SWEAT OF YOUR FACE SHALL YOU EAT BREAD TILL YOU RETURN TO THE EARTH. So they lived hundreds of years old, worked, got sweated throughout to get worse, and terrorized waited for that day and time to die, and Satan himself would grab them, as his procedure, and take them straight to hell . FOR DUST YOU ARE AND INTO DUST YOU SHALL RETURN. So it was useless that Adam was created holy. DUST YOU ARE, NOT YOU WERE. And we all know what happened after, even God became disgusted and flooded the world.

    So that was the situation for our evil generations of earth.

    But Jesus, became man in every sense like us, but sinless. He died on the cross, and through His death, removed Satan’s spirit, from our whole world, and HE HIMSELF TOOK POSSESSION, So the entire creation, heaven and earth , like He said hereunder, became HIS.

    John 12:32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw ALL THINGS TO MYSELF.

    16 For in him were all things created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominations, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him and in him. 17 And he is before all, and by him all things consist. 20 And through him to reconcile all things unto himself, making peace through the blood of his cross, both as to the things that are on earth, and the things that are in heaven.
    Through the above we are more than certain that Jesus Spirit was SACRIFICED and transformed into matter, and souls, .THROUGH OUR CREATION “all things created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible” “all things were created by him and in him.”, “and by him all things consist.”
    So what more do we want to be aware that our world is the MANIFESTATION OF JESUS SPIRIT. WE LOOK AT ALL THINGS AND WE ARE NOT AWARE THAT JESUS’ SPIRIT IS THE ACTUAL MATTER. by him all things consist.”I WONDER WHY ALL THESE NATURE DISASTERS. NATURE AUTOMATICALLY ALL THE TIME IS JUDGING US.

    Therefore whatever we consider food ,and drink for us, we should consume it in JESUS NAME, AND IN HIS MEMORY,AND BY DOING THIS WE WOULD RECEICE THE FUTURE EVERLASTING SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT FOR OUR SOULS.

    THE SUPERSUBSTANTIAL FOOD. NOT CURSED LIKE THAT OF ADAM.

    JESUS HAD EVERY REASON TO GIVE THANKS BEFORE THE CONSUMPTION OF THE FOOD ,LIKE HE DID TO BOTH THE FISH, AND BREAD.

  43. Felix says:

    I say “daily”. First, because that’s what I was taught as a kid. And, secondly, because that’s what my liturgy says (“quotidianum”).

    And I take the word to include all my needs, both as to food, work etc and, more importantly, in relation to my soul.

    Further, I take it that I’m to pray only for today, and not to take heed of tomorrow. (In the same way, as Sabu Augustine reminds us, the Jews were only to keep manna for the present day.)

    But I take it that we should depart from this approach in the last clause of the Our Father – in that we should pray to be delivered from all evil, and most importantly from the evil of final and everlasting separation from God.

  44. Maud Going says:

    That is the most beautiful rendition of the Lord’s Prayer I have ever heard. Thank you, Monsignor Pope. Wouldn’t it be gorgeous praise to have the background, instead of stained glass windows, be folks from all over, and nature behind them, in praise of God?

    Also, your Healing Mysteries of the Rosary are so fitting, and consoling. Our Lord Jesus, the Great Reliever of Suffering. Again, my thanks.

  45. Sebastien Renault says:

    Any worthwhile examination of the Our Father needs to replace it in the proper and richer context of the fundamental aspects of the apostolic tradition which, for various historical reasons, have hitherto remained mostly unknown and underappreciated in the West (thanks to early deviations and die hard historical as well as exegetical prejudices Catholic biblical scholars have increasingly adopted from Protestant biased scholarship).

    We are, however, gradually coming today to a more exact conception (albeit against both mainstream academic resistance and popular distortion) of the highly organized and exponentially skyrocketing evangelizing activity of the apostolic generation. This gradual awareness revolves around the discovery of a crucial and powerful phenomenon technically called orality (a phenomenon most contemporary westerners can hardly conceived of for lack of any real, firsthand experience). The oral, Judeo-Aramaic texture, substance, and formulaic styling of the apostolic proclamation of the Good News of the Incarnate Word that crystalized in the form of our four canonical Gospels is still to yield a plethora of remarkable fresh fruits of hermeneutic insights much needed to help restoring catechesis in our own time. It remains vastly unknown and understudied in the Western world (which includes the Latin Church).

    Understanding the Our Father is really not possible without returning to the markedly un-Greek language spoken by our Lord and His Apostles, namely to Middle Judeo-Palestinian Aramaic (however useful and illuminating the Greek version does remain). It was transmitted by an unbroken oral practice of which the text of the Chaldean/Syriac Peshitta constitutes a first-rate archaeological remnant.

    What is also transliterated as Pšittâ specifically refers to the oral-based Aramaic text that was first composed and transmitted in the format of a series of mnemonic Rosary-like structures in the main large centers of first century evangelization throughout Syro-Palestine and the Mediterranean world world by the Apostles themselves – at a very early stage, which generally escapes the notice and assumptions of mainstream theories about the genesis of the four canonical Gospels.

    What eventually became the Chaldean/Syriac Peshitta text was first written in consonantal squared Hebrew characters, following the rules of the Qumran model. Its oral form was heavily dialectal and included a host of Judean and Galilean colloquialisms. It was first codified and committed to written form on separate leather sheets or scrolls of parchment as well as papyrus liturgical lectionaries, as the main purpose and context of preservation and transmission of these texts was the very liturgy of the Church (the Apostolic liturgy of the native Catholic Church in Judea and throughout the ancient world is the essential matrix of the New Testament as we know it today). These earliest collections were produced by the Mother Church of Jerusalem under the most exercised and authoritative supervision of the Blessed Virgin Mary (the Mother of memory) and Saint James the Lesser (first Bishop of Jerusalem).

    It is obviously not possible here to treat of the whole Lord’s Prayer and of each of its petitions in substantial details. This important task would take us beyond the obvious limits of this given format. I came up elsewhere with a syntactically and semantically polished English translation by interweaving the Aramaic version from the Peshitta and the Greek text.

    So far as the petition for “bread” is concerned, it is not so accurate to call it “hidden, mysterious, and much debated” (although it is, as Msgr. Charles Pope does indicate in his post, so far as “most Christians” are concerned). It most certainly breaks away from our typical, casual expectations, and precisely introduces a whole new perspective in comparison to what we naturally understand “bread” to mean. It is, however, in and of itself unambiguous, and was not mistaken by the Apostles and their contemporaries to mean any form of “regular bread.” The Old Testament interpretive and oral formulaic matrix for this petition is found in the Book of Exodus (16:1-36) when “manna” (first called “bread from heaven”) is provided to the people of Israel in the course of their journey through the desert towards the promised Land (Exodus 16:4):

    “Behold I’m to make raining for you bread from heaven [bread from on high]. And go out shall the people to gather a word-day in its day [a day’s portion everyday].”

    The Peshitta, according to Saint Matthew directly quoting our Lord, renders it as follows (Matt 6:11):

    הב לן לחמא דסונקנן יומנא [hav lan larma desunqanan yaomana]

    “Today-of the coming from on high-the bread/[energy]-to us-give.”

    The concept of “bread” stands as a metonymy subsuming all that we, as human beings, can and must draw (on a daily basis) as fuel/energy from this present, information-based world: actual earthly food, education, human (ego-driven) motivations (honor, pleasure, money, power), human respectability and love, in brief all (physical, mental, and psychological) incentives necessary to the natural flourishment of human life. Naturally speaking, the world (the entirety of which is already given by God) provides the basis for the production and transformation of natural energy (i.e. on Earth, through photosynthesis, electromagnetic energy helps producing chemical energy in plants) into other forms of natural energy. We need to draw energy from this world in order to function and perform any kind of earthly energy-expanding activities, whether physical, mental, or psychological. The transformation of forms of natural energy into the production of “bread,” taken metonymically, represents exactly what the transformation of nature into culture, which is the specific task of humanity (animals don’t make bread!), consists of. Bread, so understood, represents the humanization (through transformative rational interpretation) of the substance of this world.

    But, in this instance, the Only Begotten Son of God made flesh does not command us to ask for something we actually are naturally driven to rationally perform in order to actualize and cultivate our human nature. What we are to ask from the transcendent (heavenly) Father-Source of all good is a transcendent (heavenly) energy, indeed a “super-substantial bread,” the “bread coming from on high.” We absolutely need it to live in accordance with the heavenly regulation (= “kingdom of heaven,” מלכותא דשמיא), for the coming of which we petition in the first half of the prayer: “May your kingdom come…” Our earthly energy-expanding actions feed on earthly energy (the regular “bread” of this present world). Likewise, we need the energy of the world to come to live supernaturally, above the substance, concerns, and ego-driven motivations of this world. We need it to live and go about the actualization in us of the theological life.

    There is absolutely nothing real is us that does not come from the true and living God. All that we are commanded to ask in the Our Father encompasses what makes us whole in relationship to our divine Source against the illusion and evil of life without God – the arch construct of fallen humanity. We are to ask it through the Only Begotten Son to our Father, from Whom, Who is above, comes down “every best gift and every perfect gift” (James 1:17).

    There is undoubtedly much more to say concerning together this particular petition and the remaining sections of this thoroughly humano-divine (theandric) prayer.

    If anyone is interested, I will be glad to expand more on the subject.

    Sébastien Renault – Catholic (independent) biblical scholar.

    PS: the translated verses above from the Masoretic Hebrew text of Exodus and the Aramaic Peshitta text of the Gospel of Saint Matthew are my own translations, keeping (as much as it is actually possible in English) with the original Semitic oral syntax and rhythmic beauty of both original texts.

  46. Sebastien Renault says:

    [Typo-free version to post instead of lost comment] Any worthwhile examination of the Our Father needs to replace it in the proper and richer context of the fundamental aspects of the apostolic tradition which, for various historical reasons, have hitherto remained mostly unknown and underappreciated in the West (thanks to early deviations and die hard historical as well as exegetical prejudices Catholic biblical scholars have increasingly adopted from Protestant biased scholarship).

    We are, however, gradually coming today to a more exact conception (albeit against both mainstream academic resistance and popular distortion) of the highly organized and exponentially skyrocketing evangelizing activity of the apostolic generation. This gradual awareness revolves around the discovery of a crucial and powerful phenomenon technically called orality (a phenomenon most contemporary westerners can hardly conceived of for lack of any real, firsthand experience). The oral, Judeo-Aramaic texture, substance, and formulaic styling of the apostolic proclamation of the Good News of the Incarnate Word that crystalized in the form of our four canonical Gospels is still to yield a plethora of remarkable fresh fruits of hermeneutic insights much needed to help restoring catechesis in our own time. It remains vastly unknown and understudied in the Western world (which includes the Latin Church).

    Understanding the Our Father is really not possible without returning to the markedly un-Greek language spoken by our Lord and His Apostles, namely to Middle Judeo-Palestinian Aramaic (however useful and illuminating the Greek version does remain). It was transmitted by an unbroken oral practice of which the text of the Chaldean/Syriac Peshitta constitutes a first-rate archaeological remnant.

    What is also transliterated as Pšittâ specifically refers to the oral-based Aramaic text that was first composed and transmitted in the format of a series of mnemonic Rosary-like structures in the main large centers of first century evangelization throughout Syro-Palestine and the Mediterranean world world by the Apostles themselves – at a very early stage, which generally escapes the notice and assumptions of mainstream theories about the genesis of the four canonical Gospels.

    What eventually became the Chaldean/Syriac Peshitta text was first written in consonantal squared Hebrew characters, following the rules of the Qumran model. Its oral form was heavily dialectal and included a host of Judean and Galilean colloquialisms. It was first codified and committed to written form on separate leather sheets or scrolls of parchment as well as papyrus liturgical lectionaries, as the main purpose and context of preservation and transmission of these texts was the very liturgy of the Church (the Apostolic liturgy of the native Catholic Church in Judea and throughout the ancient world is the essential matrix of the New Testament as we know it today). These earliest collections were produced by the Mother Church of Jerusalem under the most exercised and authoritative supervision of the Blessed Virgin Mary (the Mother of memory) and Saint James the Lesser (first Bishop of Jerusalem).

    It is obviously not possible here to treat of the whole Lord’s Prayer and of each of its petitions in substantial details. This important task would take us beyond the obvious limits of this given format. I came up elsewhere with a syntactically and semantically polished English translation by interweaving the Aramaic version from the Peshitta and the Greek text.

    So far as the petition for “bread” is concerned, it is not so accurate to call it “hidden, mysterious, and much debated” (although it is, as Msgr. Charles Pope does indicate in his post, so far as “most Christians” are concerned). It most certainly breaks away from our typical, casual expectations, and precisely introduces a whole new perspective in comparison to what we naturally understand “bread” to mean. It is, however, in and of itself unambiguous, and was not mistaken by the Apostles and their contemporaries to mean any form of “regular bread.” The Old Testament interpretive and oral formulaic matrix for this petition is found in the Book of Exodus (16:1-36) when “manna” (first called “bread from heaven”) is provided to the people of Israel in the course of their journey through the desert towards the promised Land (Exodus 16:4):

    “Behold I’m to make raining for you bread from heaven [bread from on high]. And go out shall the people to gather a word-day in its day [a day’s portion everyday].”

    The Peshitta, according to Saint Matthew directly quoting our Lord, renders it as follows (Matt 6:11):

    הב לן לחמא דסונקנן יומנא [hav lan larma desunqanan yaomana]

    “Today-of the coming from on high-the bread/[energy]-to us-give.”

    The concept of “bread” stands as a metonymy subsuming all that we, as human beings, can and must draw (on a daily basis) as fuel/energy from this present, information-based world: actual earthly food, education, human (ego-driven) motivations (honor, pleasure, money, power), human respectability and love, in brief all (physical, mental, and psychological) incentives necessary to the natural flourishment of human life. Naturally speaking, the world (the entirety of which is already given by God) provides the basis for the production and transformation of natural energy (i.e. on Earth, through photosynthesis, electromagnetic energy helps producing chemical energy in plants) into other forms of natural energy. We need to draw energy from this world in order to function and perform any kind of earthly energy-expanding activities, whether physical, mental, or psychological. The transformation of forms of natural energy into the production of “bread,” taken metonymically, represents exactly what the transformation of nature into culture, which is the specific task of humanity (animals don’t make bread!), consists of. Bread, so understood, represents the humanization (through transformative rational interpretation) of the substance of this world.

    But, in this instance, the Only Begotten Son of God made flesh does not command us to ask for something we actually are naturally driven to rationally perform in order to actualize and cultivate our human nature. What we are to ask from the transcendent (heavenly) Father-Source of all good is a transcendent (heavenly) energy, indeed a “super-substantial bread,” the “bread coming from on high.” We absolutely need it to live in accordance with the heavenly regulation (= “kingdom of heaven,” מלכותא דשמיא), for the coming of which we petition in the first half of the prayer: “May your kingdom come…” Our earthly energy-expanding actions feed on earthly energy (the regular “bread” of this present world). Likewise, we need the energy of the world to come to live supernaturally, above the substance, concerns, and ego-driven motivations of this world. We need it to live and go about the actualization in us of the theological life.

    There is absolutely nothing real in us that does not come from the true and living God. All that we are commanded to ask in the Our Father encompasses what makes us whole in relationship to our divine Source against the illusion and evil of life without God – the arch construct of fallen humanity. We are to ask it through the Only Begotten Son to our Father, from Whom, Who is above, comes down “every best gift and every perfect gift” (James 1:17).

    There is undoubtedly much more to say concerning together this particular petition and the remaining sections of this thoroughly humano-divine (theandric) prayer.

    If anyone is interested, I will be glad to expand more on the subject.

    Sébastien Renault – Catholic (independent) biblical scholar.

    PS: the translated verses above from the Masoretic Hebrew text of Exodus and the Aramaic Peshitta text of the Gospel of Saint Matthew are my own translations, keeping (as much as it is actually possible in English) with the original Semitic oral syntax and rhythmic beauty of both original texts.

Leave a Reply