Last week, I actually attempted to make bread, something I have always wanted to learn. I know that it is an art, but it is an art rooted in science. In its preparation, one has to be exact in bringing together the ingredients, so that when all the ingredients come together, the mass of dough is placed in the precisely heated stove, and something wonderful happens. Hopefully.
I tend not to be a person that is precise in all the details of life; a micro-manager I am not. But to make good bread, one needs to be attentive to all the details and in precise ways. And I learned something in this whole experience, about the one most important ingredient that makes bread happen and be delicious. Granted, all the ingredients are necessary, of course, but it is the YEAST that is at the HEART of baking bread.
“What is the first and most important of all the commandments?”, Jesus is asked in the gospel. The one commandment, like that one ingredient of yeast in bread baking, that is the foundation of all the commandments, the most important of the commandments, is the command to love God and neighbor. These were actually two separate commandments that Jesus brings together as one commandment: the love of God and the love of neighbor are joined in such a way that you can’t have one without the other. And we wonder why Jesus speaks with such powerful authority!!!
All the commandments hinge on this one commandment to love, it is the one “ingredient” absolutely necessary for all the commandments to come together and give life. Love is the “heat of the oven” that unites the commandments, so that when we follow them, we “rise” in spirit; our humanity becomes like a beautiful loaf of hot, piping bread. The first of all the ingredients in bread baking, YEAST, mirrors the first of all the commandments, LOVE.
Love is just like that yeast that brings together separate human beings into a magnificent loaf of humanity. When the necessary ingredient of love is placed in the mass of dough haphazardly, without thought, or worse, isn’t even present but left out, our hearts become rigid and hard. The ingredient of love must precede or take precedent within the laws and regulations of the church. As a church, we become legalistic and cold when the most important of all the commandments is put on the back burner.
By the way, my bread baking failed because I didn’t attend precisely to the most important ingredient, the yeast, and consequently, the bread didn’t rise. Water temp and time I guess are key.