Saint Sharbel Makhluf, Priest
What is this? (Exodus 16:15)
Throughout the Israelites’ forty years in the wilderness, God gave them bread from heaven—without fail. Every morning, they woke to a fine covering of manna on the ground, just enough food for the day. Then, just to be safe, God gave them a double portion on the day before the Sabbath so that they wouldn’t have to work on the day of rest. Imagine how moving this must have been for the Israelites. They could trust that God would take care of them—and that he would do it in such a dramatic way!
But over time, the Israelites began to grow tired of the manna (Numbers 11:6). It was the same food, day in, day out, and they lost sight of how wondrous a gift it was. They lost sight too of what their lives would look like if God hadn’t been so gracious to them.
How easy it can be for us, as well, to lose sight of the gift that Jesus gives us in the Bread of Life. After all, we believe that at every Mass, no matter what else happens, ordinary bread and wine are transformed into Jesus’ sacred Body and Blood. Day in, day out, year after year, the same miracle happens on countless altars throughout the world.
On one level, it’s understandable that receiving the Eucharist can become routine for us. We might even begin to lose sight of how special it is. Don’t let that happen! Don’t ever lose faith in what Jesus can do for you through the Eucharist! Before God gave them the manna, the Israelites faced the very real threat of starving to death in the harsh wilderness of Sinai. Similarly, if we didn’t have Jesus’ Body and Blood to nourish and empower us, we too would be lost in the desert of this world. We too would have little hope of reaching the promised land of heaven.
So treasure this gift. At every Mass, be sure you call to mind what it is that you are receiving. Let the truths behind the Bread of Life bring you to the altar with a new openness to God’s power and grace.
“Lord Jesus, who are we that you should come to us in such a humble way? Praise to you, Lord, for your gift of divine life!”
Psalm 78:18-19, 23-28
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