On the Bread of Life.

An excerpt from Flannery O’Connor’s, The Violent Bear It Away.


…the old man would continue, “You were born into bondage and baptized into freedom, into the death of the Lord, into the death of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Then the child would feel sullenness creeping over him, a slow warm rising resentment that this freedom had to be connected with Jesus and that Jesus had to be the Lord.

“Jesus is the bread of life,” the old man said.

The boy, disconcerted, would look off into the distance over the dark blue treeline where the world stretched out, hidden and at its ease. In the darkest, most private part of his soul, hanging upsidedown like a sleeping bat, was the certain, undeniable knowledge that he was not hungry for the bread of life. Had the bush flamed for Moses, the sun stood still for Joshua, the lions turned aside before Daniel only to prophesy the bread of life? Jesus? He felt a terrible disappointment in that conclusion, a dread that it was true. The old man said that as soon as he died, he would hasten to the banks of the Lake of Galilee to eat the loaves and fishes that the Lord had multiplied.

“Forever?” the horrified boy asked.

“Forever,” the old man said.

The boy sensed that this was the heart of his great-uncle’s madness, this hunger, and what he was secretly afraid of was that it might be passed down, might be hidden in the blood and might strike some day in him and then he would be torn by hunger like the old man, the bottom split out of his stomach so that nothing would heal or fill it but the bread of life.


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