Friday, August 31, 2012

Give us this day our "epiousios" bread?

When we pray the Our Father we say, "Give us this day our daily bread."  Jesus taught us to ask the Father for all that we need to live the present day.  You've probably read a book in which one of the great saints is quoted, pointing to Jesus, our Eucharistic Bread,  as the ultimate realization of the petition.  It takes only a nanosecond of reflection to see how that makes sense.

What I only learned a few years back was the solid ground such an interpretation has in the biblical text.  The Greek word that we translate as “daily” is epiousios.  If we divide the word differently however, epi-ousios, then it can be translated “super-essential” or “super-substantial” (CCC 2837).  What makes translation of this adjective so intriguing is how it occurs nowhere else in all of Greek literature.[1]  Because of that, the Fathers of the Church were almost unanimous in understanding the Our Father as asking for the “super-substantial” Bread of the Eucharist.

[1] Hahn, Scott, Understanding “Our Father”: Biblical Reflections on the Lord’s Prayer, (Steubenville, OH: Emmaus Road Publishing, 2002), p.46.

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