The Fatherhood of God

On the Lord's Prayer
by Gregory of Nyssa, 4th century

Give Us this Day our Daily Bread

Bread represents life, and bread is easy to get. Moreover, nature herself gives us something to put on it to make it more tasty. The best thing to eat with bread is the peace of a good conscience. Then the bread is eaten with gusto, because it is being eaten in holiness of life.

But if you want to experience the taste of bread otherwise than in symbolic description, in the physical sense in fact, you have hunger to eat it with. Therefore, first of all, don't eat too much: you would lose your appetite for a long time. And then, let your dinner be preceded by sweat. `In the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread,' is the first commandment mentioned in the Scriptures. [Gen. 3:19]

The Lord's Prayer speaks of `daily' bread. In saying that, let us remember that the life in which we ought to be interested is `daily' life. We can, each of us, only call the present time our own. Why should we worry
ourselves by thinking about the future?

Our Lord tells us to pray for today, and so he prevents us from tormenting ourselves about tomorrow. It is as if he were to say to us: `He who gives you this day will also give you what you need for this day. He it is who makes the sun to rise. He it is who scatters the darkness of night and reveals to you the rays of the sun.'

[Breviario Patristico © 1971 Piero Gribaudi Editore, Turin, Italy; translated by Paul Drake]

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(c) 1999 Don Schwager