In honor of the Resurrection during this Octave of Easter I made Italian Easter bread. I’m not sure why it’s called Italian since there is no garlic or any other “Italian-like ingredient” in the recipe. It is basically a light, slightly sweetened bread common to many cultures in the East and the West. The most difficult part of making this bread, or any bread, is the yeast combining with the warm water and sugar. The water has to be within a certain range for the yeast to come to life... in tiny bubbles rising to the surface.
Sound like Resurrection? Air rising to the surface coming to life!!! Yes indeed, bread comes into existence through this rising agent!!! But it takes lots of time, patience and many tries. Not to forget the kneading of the dough allowing the yeast to do its thing. As I become more aware of what I’m doing and what is necessary to make the bread rise and come to life in the heat of the oven, the end result slowly improves. Very slowly.
The wait is the most important part of the whole process. Waiting for at least an hour for the first rising, then another hour for the second riding. Rushing this makes the bread less “risen.” And once the risen dough is placed in the oven, more waiting as the heat makes it all happen.
Waiting, trusting, preparing, baking, disciplining, kneading, practicing... verbs allowing all the ingredients to become bread. Bread doesn’t happen, it takes effort and work. But bread is absolutely useless unless it is eaten and becomes a part of our bodies, nourishing them with energy.
When Jesus enters the room with the apostles gathered in fear and defeat because they thought Jesus dead, they think He is a ghost! Jesus shows them his wounds, very much a part of His risen body. But that isn’t enough. To prove that He IS Risen, bodily, he eats a piece of fish. By eating fish, Jesus takes them back to where he called them.
Making bread and all that it entails is a resurrection kind of activity. It connects us to the Eucharist, the meal that binds us to the Lord and each other. Food for the journey of faith. Nourishment. Christ chose bread and wine as the two necessary items on the menu of the Eucharist.
May we become what we eat. Christ. Risen.