Wednesday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Have you ever stopped to think about what we ask for when we pray this portion of the Lord’s Prayer? Perhaps for many of us it’s a petition for the day’s need for nourishment and sustenance. I’ve often thought of it that way. But our Lord assures us, “do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink . . . your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:25, 32). Today’s readings show us the deeper meaning behind our petition for daily bread.
One particular verse leaped out of the Exodus passage for me: “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘I will now rain down bread from heaven for you.’” I work for a non-profit organization, Heart to Honduras. Our mission involves Asset-based Community Development in rural villages in Honduras. On many occasions during my time in Honduras, torrential rains will come like I’ve never experienced anywhere else. I’ve been in worship services in churches with metal roofs when one of these deluges comes, and the pastor has no choice but to cancel service and send everyone home because the noise from the rain is so thunderous that no one can hear a word, even through the sound system! Picture God’s love, grace, and mercy being poured out like a torrential rain, a tsunami wave, a majestic waterfall, and then marvel in the reality that any earthly metaphor cannot even come close to describing the extravagance of God’s goodness to us. I’m so humbled by our Exodus text that despite the Israelites’ lack of faith and trust in God, despite their petty grumbling, and their ungrateful desire to return to their former enslavement, God rains down bread from heaven.
Obviously, this heavenly bread was literal food for the Israelites during their time in the dessert. But it’s also symbolic of the ultimate bread from heaven, Christ himself. If you have time, I encourage you to pause and read John 6:25-59. In this stunning passage, Jesus interprets the provision of the manna in light of his Paschal Mystery. “I am the Bread of Life,” Jesus declares. He goes on to say, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him . . . This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.” Are you hungry for the Eucharist? Do you hunger for the Bread of Life? During each Mass, God rains down bread from heaven for us! God pours out the extravagance of heavenly food that satisfies for eternity, God’s very real presence!
I’m a convert to Catholicism, and it was the Eucharist that drew me to conversion. During a Lenten retreat, Jesus spoke clearly to me and said, “don’t you want to receive me?” I knew in my being that he meant his very real presence in the Eucharist. From that moment on, a fire burned within me to receive him, to receive the Bread of Life. Prior to coming into the Church, at every Mass, during Communion, I wept because I was not yet able to partake, and I was so desperately hungry for our Lord. Even now, three years later, I desire to maintain my spiritual hunger. I want to approach every Mass with that same fire and longing for our Lord. How about you? Maybe you can relate, maybe you approach the Table of our Lord similarly. Or maybe you’ve lost some of your passion, some of your hunger. Let us take this opportunity today to pray for God to fan into flames our passionate love, our fiery desire to receive Christ’s very real presence in the Eucharist. Perhaps we can each set a goal of more frequent attendance at daily Mass. Let’s not just be hungry on Sundays; let’s live out what we ask for in the Lord’s Prayer. Let us seek, as well as ask for our daily bread. Back to our Exodus text, God said to Moses, “Each day the people are to go out and gather their daily portion.” Let’s go gather our daily portion today, knowing that it will rain down from God’s extravagant love for us!
- Elizabeth Wourms