06 October 2014

Parable of the Yeast: God is a Baker Woman

And again he said, "To what should I compare the kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened." (Luke 13:20-21)

is a baker-woman
elbow-deep in dough,
kneading, kneading,
making bread
preparing for a feast.
Taking flour,
adding yeast,
until the dough is leavened through,
working, working
till all is ready for her feast.

you became bread
for us to feast upon,
for us to be fed,
strengthened, restored,
filled by you.
You became bread 
for us to devour,
consumed for our sakes,
fulfilling our needs,
our hunger for you.

we are your bread
to be shared with this world.
You knead us, prepare us,
to feed hungry mouths
in need of you.
You spread your yeast
into each corner
that we may rise
and glorify you
at your feast
where all will be fed.

So let us feed on you
in thanksgiving
as you knead us
into your image.
Give us grace
to feed the world
as you fed us,
with these gifts
you gave to us -
Bread of Life.


[5. - 6. October 2014]

One could say this is the first time I have ever used feminine pronouns on God - I'm  not usually that kind of feminist, but since it suits the parable I hope no one's going to complain, since the image of the baker-woman was made up by Jesus, not me...

The topic of "bread" kind of stalked me all day yesterday, so I ended up writing this, bringing together different thoughts that had been impressed on me during the day...
  1. In the morning, I read this month's "Word of Life" from the Focolare movement. The verse of the month happens to be all about bread! "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." (John 6:35) You can read Chiara Lubich's interpretation here, it really inspired me and flowed into this poem. God is bread - Jesus became bread for us, in multiple senses. He fulfills our deepest needs - and we remember Him through bread in Communion / Eucharist.
  2. On the way to church in the evening, the words "God is a baker woman" sort of whacked into my brain and I started meditating on Lk 13:20-21 because I remembered that parable. It's one of a set of parables about what the "Kingdom of God" is like. The "feast" image slid into the poem because that is another image from another parable - sort of what the bread is being prepared for (the feast at the end of time).
  3. The sermon in my church also ended up involving bread and communion imagery! One thing that stayed with me was sharing: that we are not meant to hoard what God gives us, but share it. And I really loved this image: when we break the bread for communion, one half represents what we receive - the other half what we share. We are meant to share. In a sense, we can become bread to share with others what Jesus shared with us. And that can mean suffering too: being "consumed" like Jesus was.
  4. The "parable of the yeast" is basically about the influence of Jesus spreading through the world. In that sense, it's very much about sharing. What is the influence of Jesus, though? I believe it's becoming like Him, following Him, living like He did. But that means giving ourselves like He did, denying ourselves, being willing to be "consumed" by hungry people. Helping people in all their needs, be it literal hunger, or a hunger for love and acceptance, or another need. Bringing people the "Bread of Life", which is Jesus - but in a sense becoming bread too, by becoming like Him.

"Loving means 'making ourselves one' with everyone, making ourselves one in all the others want, in the least and most insignificant things and in those that perhaps might be of little interest to us but are important to them. [...] This is love, to make ourselves one in a way that makes others feel nourished by our love, comforted, uplifted, understood." (Chiara Lubich)

Picture by Jean-François Millet.

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