120 Bread for today
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This petition fits well with the harsh realities of life for the desperately poor and those crushed by debt, and they were common even in 1C Galilee as also in our own world. However, it is possible that the prayer fragment arises out of the daily experience of Jesus as an itinerant holy person.
Without the benefit of either land or business, Jesus lived at the edge of hunger and relied on the charity of others.
While the humorous description of Jesus "eating and drinking his way across Galilee" captures the memory of Jesus sharing table fellowship with poor and rich without distinction, it obscures the aching hunger and the haunting uncertainty with which many days must have begun and ended.
Or do we imagine that God always provided Jesus and his followers with sufficient bread for each day? What if Jesus often went to sleep hungry and awoke with no immediate prospect of food to break his fast? What kind of Word-made-flesh is this?
Hal Taussig, Jesus Before God, 87f comments:
Since Jesus seems to be dependent on others for food — at least while he was on the road teaching — such a prayer would have asked simply that he receive enough food for that day. In this regard, it is important to note that the prayer sentence in Matthew is closer to the historical Jesus than Luke. Luke has generalized this sentence into a request for food day after day.
This simple sentence prayer is striking in the way it casts Jesus on the care of God, and freed him from dependence on the conventions of family or accumulated wealth. Jesus' prayer for only the current day's bread fits very well with his teachings. In Thom 36:1 we read:
Don't fret from morning to evening and evening to morning about your food.
And in Luke 12:24, Jesus said:Think about the crows: they don’t plant or harvest, they don't have storehouses or barns. Yet God feeds them.
So praying for bread just for today corresponds on two levels to Jesus' life as a sage:2. It corresponds to the wisdom Jesus was teaching: that one should not worry about the accumulation of food and drink, but simply let each day take care of itself.
1. It reflects the fact that Jesus was in need of food each day ...