The Resurrection of the Lord

Lectionary: 42

Do you not know that a little yeast leavens all the dough? Clear out the old yeast, so that you may become a fresh batch of dough, inasmuch as you are unleavened. For our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed.
Therefore, let us celebrate the feast, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

The wise baker kneads flour and water together with a "stock" of older dough, then sets it aside for a few hours. The microscopic yeast which was hidden in the stock flourishes in the new lump, causing it to "rise" with pockets of air. More cycles of kneading and rising creates a satisfactory lump of dough which is baked into fresh, lovely bread. 

The ancient Hebrew women knew little of spores but they knew how to bake bread. For the Passover, in order to create unleavened bread they threw away the old stock during their spring cleaning, and started afresh. The kneaded loaf didn't rise, but was baked into solid chunks of airless bread. This bread was the same as they had eaten during the rush to escape Egypt many centuries before, a memory retained with their teeth, tongues, cheeks and saliva. This crunchy, chewy bread still retained the shock of urgency and dread.  

Our Catholic tradition retains that memory of Egypt with the unleavened bread of our communion. (It may not be required but it's a preferred tradition.) 

Rabbi Abraham Heschel says of faith and tradition: 

(Neither) the individual man nor a single generation by its own power can erect the bridge that leads to God. Faith is the achievement of ages, an effort accumulated over centuries. Many of its ideas are as the light of a star that left its source centuries ago. Many songs, unfathomable today, are the resonance of voices of bygone times. There is a collective memory of God in the human spirit, and it is this memory of which we partake in our faith….

Memory is a source of faith. To have faith is to remember. Jewish faith is a recollection of that which happened to Israel in the past. The events in which the spirit of God became a reality stand before our eyes painted in colors that can never fade. Much of what the Bible demands can be comprised in one word, Remember. (Man is not alone. Heschel)

The texture of our thin, flat Communion remembers our Jewish roots. We have been grafted onto the Hebrew race and into the promises made to Abraham. Our faith is "the achievement of ages, an effort accumulated over centuries." Those who deny or ignore our Jewish heritage renounce their faith in Jesus. They are led back into the slavery of Egypt with its reproach. With Easter and the Eucharist our purity has been restored -- that ready, eager helplessness of the Hebrews in Egypt who would be delivered from the Pharaoh's land. 

The unleavened wafer also recalls Saint Paul's exhortation to throw out the old yeast of malice and wickedness. Sins like racism, sexism, bullying, vengeance or cowardice have no place in our our families or church. We cannot complain of insecurity or worry about the future. As the child Tamar told her brother, "This is not done in Israel." 

After forty days preparation in which we have spring-cleaned our hearts not even the spore of sin remains. Let us then taste our Victory with the unleavened bread of his Body and the new wine of his Blood. 

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.