“And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as hoarfrost on the ground. When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat. This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Gather of it, every man of you, as much as he can eat…” (Exodus 16:14-16).
The Lord always knows what you need. As the Israelites struggled through the wilderness, enduring trials and tribulations in their newfound freedom from Egypt, God was with them. And when they reached the point of utter exhaustion, hungry and desperate for help, he blessed them with the miraculous bread from Heaven to strengthen them along their way:
“And the people of Israel ate the manna forty years, till they came to a habitable land; they ate the manna, till they came to the border of the land of Canaan” (Exodus 16:35).
Just as God sustained his chosen people during their Exodus from Egypt, so too does he nourish us with an even greater spiritual food – the Eucharist. As the ultimate gift and food for the wilderness of our lives, the Eucharist has within it the power to lead us into our Eternal Promised Land! Recall the Eucharistic prayer we pray in Mass each time we participate and receive this sacred bread, “Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray, by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall, so that they may become for us the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The Church has always understood this earthly life to be a pilgrimage and the Eucharist as the spiritual food to lead us along the pathway into the Promised Land. Each of us lives out our own Exodus story, right smack in the middle of salvation history. The Israelites’ story becomes our story.
“What material food produces in our bodily life, Holy Communion wonderfully achieves in our spiritual life. Communion with the flesh of the risen Christ...preserves, increases, and renews the life of grace received at Baptism. This growth in Christian life needs the nourishment of Eucharistic Communion, the bread for our pilgrimage until the moment of death…” (CCC 1392).
We all need the Eucharist each and every Sunday; but the reality is, the more the better! Thanks be to God we have the opportunity to receive this spiritual food every day, if we are willing and able. In addition to Sunday, let us aspire to receive the Eucharist at least once per week during daily mass, recalling the words from Exodus, “Every man of you, as much as he can eat.”
In addition to the Eucharist, Christ himself speaks specifically of two other spiritual foods:
1) The Word of God “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). The Word of God is the perfect spiritual food for us because although many can’t make it to Mass every day, we can all feed on The Word of God at any time and any place. In the morning, in the middle of the day or night, you can reference your Bible (or your phone/app) easily and conveniently find the readings.
The God of the Universe, the One who is pure spirit, who stands outside of time, infinitely bigger than the biggest thoughts or dreams, has come down from the heavens to speak to us in our human language. His wisdom pierces to the depths of our hearts in ways nothing and no one else can. God awaits us in the Scriptures. Let us find him there daily and allow him to feed us and sustain us.
2) The Will of God “I have food to eat of which you do not know...My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work” (John 4:32-34).
Our entire journey has been focused upon the will of God and his desire to set us free. We have set out to cooperate with the grace that has been lavished upon us, willing to pay the price to achieve authentic freedom.
These foods are gifts from God, just as surely as the manna was for his chosen people in the days of old. Without that physical food the Israelites would have surely perished in the wilderness. In similar fashion, without our spiritual food from above we will most certainly perish in this world, famished and desperate for the only thing that can bring us ultimate purpose and fulfillment. On the other hand, if we drink deeply of these rich foods, we will transcend this world and already have one foot in the next.
OUR PATHWAY THROUGH THE WILDERNESS:DAY 16
• Read the Word of God each day. • Attend Mass once per week in addition to Sunday.