The Israelites who escaped slavery in Egypt were given manna from heaven to help them on their journey through the desert towards the Promised Land.
When did they stop receiving this manna?
When they reached the Promised Land – the land of Canaan, generally thought to be the whole of western Palestine.
So, the manna was their food for the journey.
A journey through a desert which was a wilderness, a land of fiery serpents, and scorpians.
The Eucharist is our own parallel food for the journey.
To the Promised Land of our eternal home.
Like the desert experienced by the Israelites, our world today has some aspects of a wilderness. It has many people who doubt in God’s existence, many who object to the teachings of God’s Word and the teachings of the Church. It has the wilderness of consumerism. The wilderness mantra that we should be putting ourselves first and others last. It has the wilderness experiences of violence, racism, injustice and hatred.
The Eucharist is a food that helps sustain us through this wilderness.
It is food for our journey on the way home.
Jesus points out that the manna eaten by the Israelites in the desert sustained them only for their journey to their earthly Promised Land.
As amazing as it was, bread created in the desert by God, it pales into insignificance compared to the bread offered by Jesus.
Because Jesus offers us “… the bread come down from heaven … anyone who eats this bread will live forever.”
And “Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life and I shall raise him up on the last day.”
What an incredible promise!
A food that offers eternal life in God’s kingdom.
Jesus offers this food freely to us who believe in him and live in accord with his ways.
So let’s pray in thanks for the great gift of the Eucharist.
Let’s pray in thanks for being called to be part of the people Jesus calls his body – the people of God in the Church.
But let’s also be challenged by the reality of what we are receiving.
By receiving Jesus we are becoming one with Him.
By becoming one with him as part of his body on earth, we are obliged to represent him on earth.
To be his representatives of love and mercy and justice in a world which can seem like it lacks enough love, mercy and justice.
That is why at the end of every Mass we are told by the deacon or priest to take what we have received out into the world.
To Go and take the blessings of God’s Word and Eucharist to those we will meet in the week to come.
So, we can’t just be grateful that we are receiving blessings to make us feel good and nourish us on our way to our eternal Promised Land.
No, we are also meant to feel challenged as to how we will use this nourishment for the nourishment of our world.
To make the wilderness of our world something more like a Promised Land because of our words and actions.