Speak Lord: Bread of Life

DSC07667manna Lourdes 2016.jpg

Moses said to the people: ‘Remember how the Lord your God led you for forty years in the wilderness, to humble you, to test you and know your inmost heart – whether you would keep his commandments or not. He humbled you, he made you feel hunger, he fed you with manna which neither you nor your fathers had known, to make you understand that man does not live on bread alone but that man lives on everything that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

‘Do not become proud of heart. Do not forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery: who guided you through this vast and dreadful wilderness, a land of fiery serpents, scorpions, thirst; who in this waterless place brought you water from the hardest rock; who in this wilderness fed you with manna that your fathers had not known.’

Deuteronomy 8:2-3,14-16

The First reading at Mass today, the feast of Corpus Christi, refers us to God’s feeding of Israel with manna, during their long journey from enslavement to the Promised Land. The food and the journey are viewed by Christians as types for, anticipations that will be fulfilled by,  the Eucharist and our salvation in Christ.

The gift we receive is greater than that offered to Israel. And yet the fruitfulness of our reception of it lies equally in doubt.

The feast of Corpus Christi provides us with further reason to pause and take stock on how carefully we receive the gifts of God and how we try to live them for our good and the good of all.

Detail from altar and sanctuary in chapel of St Bernadette, Lourdes. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

 

 

 

Speak Lord: Giver of gifts

Manna NG

The first reading at Mass today, the 18th Sunday of the Year, reminds us of the moaning and groaning people of Israel, and of the gift of manna (and quails) that sustains them during their desert wanderings.

The context of the Liturgy, and Christian Tradition, means we will focus more on the manna than the quails. Indeed the compilers of the Lectionary chose this reading to accompany today’s Gospel reading with its talk of the bread of heaven that is Christ, the antitype to the type of the bread gifted by God to Israel.

The whole community of the sons of Israel began to complain against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness and said to them, ‘Why did we not die at the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we were able to sit down to pans of meat and could eat bread to our heart’s content! As it is, you have brought us to this wilderness to starve this whole company to death!’

Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Now I will rain down bread for you from the heavens. Each day the people are to go out and gather the day’s portion; I propose to test them in this way to see whether they will follow my law or not.

‘I have heard the complaints of the sons of Israel. Say this to them, “Between the two evenings you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have bread to your heart’s content. Then you will learn that I, the Lord, am your God.”’

And so it came about: quails flew up in the evening, and they covered the camp; in the morning there was a coating of dew all round the camp. When the coating of dew lifted, there on the surface of the desert was a thing delicate, powdery, as fine as hoarfrost on the ground. When they saw this, the sons of Israel said to one another, ‘What is that?’ not knowing what it was. ‘That’ said Moses to them ‘is the bread the Lord gives you to eat.’

Exodus 16:2-4,12-15

Israel does not sound too impressed at the gift of manna! And we do not hear here of any appreciation of the quail either! Yet these gifts keep them alive…

  • What comes our way, as gift from God? Are we able to accept it gratefully, appreciatively?
  • Do we live by faith? Or live according to our own lights, our agenda? And if it is a bit of both, then what’s the balance and what makes for the difference?

Picture is The Israelites gathering Manna by Ercole de’ Roberti. In the collection of the National Gallery, London. 

Taste and See: Proclaiming our eucharistic faith

Manna, Chapel screen Leeds

The Preface for Corpus Christi reminds of the beauty and power of the Sacrament of the Eucharist and the salvation of which it is foretaste.

It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God,
through Christ our Lord.

For at the Last Supper with his Apostles,
establishing for the ages to come the saving memorial of the Cross,
he offered himself to you as the unblemished Lamb,
the acceptable gift of perfect praise.
Nourishing your faithful by this sacred mystery,
you make them holy, so that the human race,
bounded by one world,
may be enlightened by one faith
and united by one bond of charity.
And so, we approach the table of this wondrous Sacrament,
so that, bathed in the sweetness of your grace,
we may pass over to the heavenly realities here foreshadowed.

Therefore, all creatures of heaven and earth
sing a new song in adoration,
and we, with all the host of Angels,
cry out, and without end we acclaim:
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts . . .

Taste and see? In what do you especially discern the sweetness of the Lord?

Detail of screen to place of eucharistic reservation, Hinsley Hall, Leeds. (c) 2003, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Bread from heaven

 

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The First reading on Sunday reminds of one of the precursors of the Bread of Heaven that is the Eucharist – the manna that came  from heaven and provided food for the people of Israel as they wandered through the wilderness.

Moses said to the people: ‘Remember how the Lord your God led you for forty years in the wilderness, to humble you, to test you and know your inmost heart – whether you would keep his commandments or not. He humbled you, he made you feel hunger, he fed you with manna which neither you nor your fathers had known, to make you understand that man does not live on bread alone but that man lives on everything that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
‘Do not become proud of heart. Do not forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery: who guided you through this vast and dreadful wilderness, a land of fiery serpents, scorpions, thirst; who in this waterless place brought you water from the hardest rock; who in this wilderness fed you with manna that your fathers had not known.’

Deuteronomy 8:2-3,14-16

We are a redeemed, freed people. That is our proud boast – as it was for Israel set free from slavery in Egypt. And yet like them in the wilderness, we can seem tested beyond endurance, be unclear where we are heading, unsure of how we can find the strength to keep on the journey to get there.

  • What tests do you face in your journey today? What tests come from those around you? What tests from you yourself and how you are?
  • What strengths can you draw on?
  • How does God sustain you in your journey today?

You might like to ask these sorts of questions again at the end of the end of the day – an examen, or an examination of your awareness of the day.

  • What was good about my day? For what should I give thanks to God?
  • What was difficult about my day? For what do I need to ask God’s mercy and forgiveness?
  • What lies ahead of me tomorrow? For what do I need to ask God’s help?