The New Manna
Homily for Friday of the Third Week in Easter
Once again, we hear Jesus comparing his body and blood to the manna which the Israelites received from God while they were sojourning in the desert. He reminds the people who are listening to him that their ancestors ate the manna but still died. Deserts do not tend to be places where crops will grow. However, even if the desert would be arable and would be able to grow crops, the Israelites were on the move. They couldn’t stop and wait for the food to grow even if the desert would permit the seeds to bring forth a crop. Nomads do not have time to stay in one place and grow their own food.
Like the Israelites, we too are on a journey. We are travelers toward the promised land of heaven and trying to escape the slavery of sin. We need nourishment to sustain us through this journey. Like the Israelites, we too might complain as we are making this journey because, as we all know, life can be difficult. Our generous and compassionate God gives us the most beautiful gift we can imagine: his own son, Jesus Christ, in the Eucharist. Jesus is the new manna come down from heaven. And as Jesus reminds us, those who eat his body and drink his blood will not die but will have eternal life.
Our life as followers of Jesus can be difficult just as the journey through the desert was difficult for the children of Israel. The key difference between us and those who spent forty years traveling through the desert is that we have accepted the invitation that Jesus offers us to draw our sustenance from him. Let us give God thanks for this wonderful sacrament through which he sustains us and nourishes us and strengthens us for the journey.