The people of God faced so much difficulties associated with desert journey. It was only six weeks into their desert sojourn, after the food stuff they brought out of the land of Egypt had exhausted, they were at the point of starvation. In their hunger, they grumbled against Moses and Aaron, as they remembered the fleshpots and the bread, which they used to enjoy in the land of Egypt. As the Israelites blamed Moses and Aaron for bringing them into the desert hardship of having nothing to eat, the Lord addressed Moses that he will rain down bread from heaven for them. Each day the people are to gather their daily portion. Through Moses, God promised his people that in the evening twilight they shall eat flesh, and in the morning they shall have their fill of bread, so that they may know that he is the Lord, their God (Exodus 16:1-5, 9-15).
This was an offense on the part of the people of God because instead of looking ahead with great hope to get to the Promised Land, they were looking backwards to the fleshpots of Egypt. God helped them to place their trust in his divine providence, by providing them with quail and manna to satisfy their hunger. The desert experiences of the Old Testament Israel, is ours too, who are called through this earthly pilgrimage to eternal life with God in the Promised Land of heaven. In the face of difficulties, trials and challenges of life, many times, we forget that Our Lord Jesus Christ journeys with us as our viaticum. Instead of looking forward ahead, we look back to the fleshpots of Egypt or the things of the past, which we have left behind. In this way, those things constitute trials and temptations for us. They make us to lose our focus on the goal, and weaken our love of God, who is our ultimate goal in life.
In this case, Our God continues to show his great love for us, by giving us his sufficient and effective grace to journey on ahead. He gives us the sacraments of the Church to help us to live in the state of grace. In the Eucharist, Jesus offers himself to us as food for our journey through this earthly pilgrimage to everlasting life of heaven. He makes us to be the Church, to support one another in the community of believers. To lead us ahead, Jesus does not want us to be looking for him for any other reasons, other than that he is the Father’s gift to us for our nourishment and salvation. We should be looking for him, for the food that remains unto life eternal, which is his very self, in the Eucharist. We must put our faith in him, who is God’s bread, who comes down from heaven to give us life. He is the bread of life (John 6:24-35). He builds us up as the Church. In this way, we are the mystical Body of Christ, the continuation and prolongation of Christ; as members of this Church, we constitute the People of God, the new Israel.
Nurtured by God in this way, he expects each of us to conform into the image and likeness of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to bear fruits of the kingdom to which we have been called. In this awareness, it is obvious that we should not be living the life of non-Christians. We should be living life in Christ in whom we have communion in God, through his life, death and resurrection. As St. Paul tells us today, we must lay aside our former way of life and the old self which deteriorates through illusion and desire, and acquire a fresh spiritual way of thinking. We must put on that new man created in God’s image, whose justice and holiness are born of truth (Ephesians 4:20-24).
As we celebrate today, let us pray for the openness in our lives to use all the graces God has given us to conform into the image and likeness of Christ; so that we will no longer be looking back to the old ways of the past, but rather to look ahead to what we have been called to be in Jesus Christ, the bread of life.