How do we contemplate on the manna, the bread provided by God for the people in the desert and the Bread of Life found in Jesus Christ?
Manna filled the people’s bodily needs, but did not satisfy their spiritual want. This bread provided by God for the people came down in response to their complaining of hunger, but was not the bread of salvation. This was not the Bread of Everlasting Life. For they ate it, but were still hungry the next day and still died in their time.
While their bellies were filled each day, the manna did not satisfy their spiritual hunger, it did not advance them in the ways of understanding. Manna was not bread prepared by Wisdom. Despite all God had done for the people in delivering them from slavery and hardship in Egypt, they still complained against Him. In their foolishness, they failed to understand the will of God and His great love for them. Despite all they had witnessed of God’s power and protection; delivering them from the hands of Pharaoh, they persisted in their complaints and grumbling; failing to give thanks to God for all they received.
Manna was not the bread of salvation. It was not the bread of everlasting life. Taking this bread into them did not given them more than immediate; fleeting satisfaction. Each day they had to gather up what God provided and remained foolish, not making the most of the opportunity to understand.
“Whoever eats this bread and drinks this blood has eternal life and I will raise him on the last day.”
"(This) . . . is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever."
Jesus is the one who satisfies our hunger and thirst – He is real food and real drink. Taking in His flesh and drinking His blood brings us eternal life and understanding of the Truth of God. He is the table prepared by Wisdom, so we may partake and advance in understanding.
Jesus gave us the Eucharist as a reminder to give Thanksgiving to God for all He has done for us and to remember Him: His life, death and resurrection – that brings us salvation and everlasting life. Eating the body and blood of Jesus is much more than consuming the Eucharist at mass. Jesus wants us to remember not just what was, but what is: – our newness of life, our life changed forever – our life given to us in baptism, sealed in the Holy Spirit and strengthened in the Eucharist when we take on Christ - Body and Blood, His Soul and Divinity.
The full understanding of taking the Bread of Life within ourselves, I believe is best summed up by the Apostle Paul when he declared,
“It is no longer I who live, but Christ (who) lives in me; and the life which I now live - in the flesh - I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
Our vocation as believers in Jesus Christ is to live in the fullness of all He teaches, imitating His life within our station – loving as we are loved all our brothers and sisters. We are baptized to live in this world as Christians, followers of Jesus Christ, but not to be of this world - the dominion of the evil-one. We surrender our lives to Jesus in the Eucharist – taking within ourselves the fullness of His life, death and resurrection: guided by the Spirit; living as He lived – with love, mercy and compassion for all our heavenly Father’s children.
For Jesus is the Bread of Everlasting Life, food: unlike the manna in the desert that was sufficient only for the day. He is that everlasting food that satisfies our every need; giving us eternal peace, joy, love and life that leads us home - into the heavenly kingdom, where He lives and reigns with the Father and Holy Spirit – One God forever and ever. ~Amen