Homily – 18th Sunday OT B 8/2/9

Homily – 18th Sunday OT B 8/2/9

In the First Reading, we read the account of how God provided for His People as they journeyed through the desert to the Promised Land.

The Israelites had no sooner miraculously escaped death on the shores of the Red Sea, when they are suddenly confronted with another major crisis: they have no food, and they are in the middle of a barren desert.

But just as the Lord God delivered them from cruel slavery in Egypt, and just as He delivered them from Pharaoh’s armies at the Red Sea, so did God have a plan to deliver them from hunger in the desert.

For all Forty Years of their journey, God gave the Israelites a miraculous Bread to satisfy their hunger and give them the strength the journey on.

As the first reading says: In the morning a dew lay all about the camp, and when the dew evaporated, there on the surface of the desert were fine flakes like hoarfrost on the ground.

On seeing it, the Israelites asked one another “Man hu?” (Man hu being Hebrew for “What is this?”). (They) asked one another “Man hu?” for they did not know what it was. But Moses told them “This is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat.”

The Bible says that the Manna first appeared on a Sunday morning, and the Israelites first ate it on that day.

Every day of their journey, every able bodied Israelite was required to go out in the morning and collect only enough Manna for that day’s meals.

Whatever Manna was left on the ground would melt and disappear when the heat of the noon day sun hit it. The Manna left on the ground miraculously melted, but the Manna that was collected didn’t melt even when it was baked into bread in a hot oven, which was how the Israelites normally prepared it.

If the Israelites tried to collect extra Manna and stockpile it for future use, the next morning the Manna they stored would be miraculously rotten and worthless, because the LORD God strictly ordered the Israelites only to take enough for that day.

But while the Israelites were strictly forbidden to gather extra manna, their were two exceptions to this rule.

First, God did allow them to collect more than a day’s worth every Friday. On Fridays they were to collect two day’s worth, because on Saturdays, the manna would not appear as it was the day God commanded the Israelites to rest and do no work. On Saturday, the sabbath day, the day old Manna would not be rotten but was able to be eaten until the Manna reappeared every Sunday.

And the other exception was that God ordered Moses to take an omerful of Manna (which is about 8 cups worth) and place it in a golden urn for future generations to see it.

According to the Book of Exodus, Manna looked like tiny little white seeds about a half a centimeter in diameter.

Seeds that the Israelites baked into Bread. The Book of Wisdom Chapter 16 famously says “You Lord have given them Bread from Heaven, having all sweetness within it/Serving the desire of him who received it, and blended to whatever flavor each one wished”

In other words, the Manna miraculously tasted like whatever flavor you wanted it to taste like. If the Israelite eating the Manna wanted it to taste like chocolate, it tasted like chocolate. If they wanted it to taste like Lobster, it tasted like Lobster. Like Dynamites, it tasted like Dynamites!

Such miraculous food did the People of God eat every day for Forty Years as they journeyed to the Promised Land. And three days after they finally entered the Promised Land it was the feast of Passover, and Book of Joshua says On the. . . .day after the Passover on which they ate of the produce of the land, the manna ceased. No longer was there manna for the Israelites, who that year ate of the bounty of the Promised Land.

Such was the Miraculous Manna which the People of the Old Covenant were Fed as they journeyed through the wilderness.

But in today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that the Old Manna given was just seeds compared to Him.

I am the Living Bread come down from Heaven.

Like the Israelites of old, Jesus miraculously appears each day on our altars to be the Spiritual Food that will keep us from Spiritual Starvation in this dry and barren world as we journey to the Promised Land of Heaven.

Each day each one of us must go and gather up some of this New Manna for our day’s journey. We pray in the Our Father “Give us this day our daily bread”

Maybe we can’t get to communion each day, but we still need to each day make a spiritual communion, asking Jesus to come to us in our prayer time, being fed by His Holy Word, the Bible.

Like the Manna of old, we can’t stockpile holiness, we need to pick up our Cross each day and follow Jesus.

And on the Lord’s Day, now Sunday, we rest before the Lord as He does the work for us and comes to us in Holy Communion.

And just as Moses reserved the Manna of Old in a Golden Urn, so the Church Reserves the Blessed Sacrament in a golden Tabernacle for the veneration of the faithful.

And the Eucharist, like the Manna of old, “serves the desire of him who received it, and (is) blended to whatever flavor each one wishes Whatever “flavor” of grace we are in need of – some virtue, a healing, graces for a loved one – Jesus will supply that when we eat of the New Manna, the Bread of Life.

And finally, when we reach Heaven, the promised land, at the end of our journey through the wilderness of this life, we will no longer eat the Bread of Life, we will instead see Jesus face to face.

So may we say to Jesus what the people in today’s Gospel said to him: Sir, give us this bread always!

May Jesus always give us this bread, and may we who eat of it live forever with him one day in Heaven.

Comments are closed.