Give Us Today Our Daily Bread
Read Matthew 6:9-13
"Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven." - Matthew 9:10
Reflection: Fast food workers’ struggle for a living wage can be summarized in these six words of the Lord’s Prayer: Give us today our daily bread.
These words are usually addressed to God in petition for the things we need to live. In the context of the fight for a fair wage of $15 an hour, these words are also addressed to the fast food companies: give back to us today our daily bread. When you pay workers low wages and forbid them to organize, you take away their daily bread, their God-given means of support. This is a great wrong. You may not take to yourself what God has given to others!
And so we will proclaim the words of Jesus with our acts of prayer, fasting, and good works of direct action. Give us today our daily bread.
Let’s break it down one word at a time.
Give us today our daily bread: There are so many things we need, like food, housing, and health care, that should not depend on our earning power to gain them. These good things, the essential goods of life, must be given. We are telling the fast food bosses to pay workers the $15 wage because they can and because the workers need it.
Give us today our daily bread: These goods are common to all. They must be given to everyone and shared by all. When fast food companies fail to pay a living wage to their workers, they deprive them of the goods that are due to them by virtue of their human needs. Therefore these companies are stealing from them and harming the whole human community.
Give us today our daily bread: There is to be no delay in giving the workers their wages. From the book of Deuteronomy: On each day you shall pay the servant’s wages before the sun goes down, since the servant is poor and is counting on them. Otherwise the servant will cry to the LORD against you, and you will be held guilty. Fast food companies have resisted paying the $15 wage, letting many suns go down on their poor employees. How many more tomorrows must come before these workers receive what they deserve?
Give us today our daily bread: These workers are not making a living for only themselves. Families depend on them. There are daughters and sons, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers and cousins. What they seek, $15 and a right to unionize, is for the good of their households. Bread is for the many; it is meant to be broken and shared.
Give us today our daily bread: These workers are not asking for more than what they need to care for themselves and their loved ones. It is the minimum necessary. Just enough to get by, day by day, week by week, month by month. They are not looking to get rich. They are not looking for an easy life. They are looking for the means of support that will help them live each day with dignity and security.
Give us today our daily bread. We are talking about basic human needs: food, clothing, housing, medicine, access to higher education. Let us remind fast food companies of the irony: Their employees, who serve meals to millions of people worldwide every day, themselves cannot afford to eat well.
Prayer: Merciful God, you teach us to rely on you alone for our human needs, and you never fail to give what you promise. We thank you for your Son, Jesus Christ, who emptied himself so that we might be filled with every good thing. Teach us who hunger and thirst for righteousness to imitate Jesus, who fasted and prayed and did good works to bring about your just and peaceful reign. Make of our fast a holy offering to our sisters and brothers who have been deprived of their daily bread. We ask for this in the name of Jesus, the Bread of Life. Amen.