Anyone who has grown up in a large family with a tight budget knows of the importance finding ways to make food go a long way. Sometimes one has to get creative doing that, but what is perhaps a common way to make food go a long way? Casseroles. Despite my dislike for lima beans, I generally liked just about every food my parents prepared for us. However, there were times my siblings and I may have asked, “What is it?” Just about any child has asked that question regarding food: what is it?
The Israelites asked the same question when in the desert and God gave them a miraculous bread. What is it, they asked. In Hebrew, “what is it?” is the word “manna.” When we say “manna,” we are saying “what is it?” In yesterday's (4/28) gospel reading from St. John's gospel (6:30-35), Jesus reminds His listeners that their ancestors ate manna in the desert, as God had given them bread from heaven to eat. Much could be said about that manna. It was miraculous: it appeared everyday. God provided this bread from heaven. As I included in the video message, check out Brant Pitre's book “Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist” to learn more about the manna and how it serves also as a foreshadowing of the Eucharist. You can also check out this video to learn more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P45BHDRA7pU
Jesus then goes on to say that His Father gives the true bread from heaven, and He makes another “I AM” statement when He says, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” The Eucharist, the new manna, Christ's Body and Blood, is the miraculous and true bread from heaven, giving life to anyone who eats of it.
Today, Jesus in the gospel (John 6:35-40) speaks of believing in the Son. We can always substitute the word “trust” in place of believe. As the Bread of Life continues to unfold and as Jesus intensifies His language as giving His Body and Blood as true food and true drink, we are invited to trust His words, so that we no longer have to ask, “what is it?” about the Eucharist, but instead may know the Eucharist is this miraculous food, bread from heaven, true food and true drink: the Body and Blood of Christ, giving us life. May our gratitude, understanding, appreciation, and desire for this great gift from God grow in this time.