Grace to you!
Biblical stories aren’t dead history. Through them, we learn how God works with His people and how we can walk with God in our day-to-day life. There is freshness in engaging with God’s Word and allowing it to impregnate our life and actions.
Consider the famous story of the “Manna in the wilderness” as recorded in Exodus chapter 16. Those familiar with geography will appreciate how dry the territory around the west coast of the Sinai Peninsula is. Scripture calls it “Wilderness of Sin,” located between Elim and Sinai (Ex 16:1). “Sin” isn’t to be confused with moral sin.
Biblical background information shows that even if one were to accumulate all the food reserve of the route between Elim and Sinai, it could barely provide for a day’s meal for five thousand people. But the Israelites leaving Egypt were numerous, about six hundred thousand men, excluding women and children (see Ex 12:37). Go figure out what the estimated population could be.
How would they feed? From where would they get water to satisfy the thirst of so many in the wilderness? Therefore, one would see why the Israelites started to grumble against Moses and Aaron (Ex 16:2-3). Be sure their grumbling was also against God.
I love this story for many reasons, one of which is how real the characters are portrayed. Who wouldn’t grumble if they had been convinced to leave their comfort zone and realize, midway, they have no extra gas in the tank of the car to reach their destination? A leap of faith sounds fascinating until you’ve got to make the leap yourself. But it’s in making that leap that providence is evident.
I remember a time in my ministry when I was settled for the immediate and the predictable. God had to push me out of the comfort zone so I could appreciate what providence really means. It’s only then that the flourishing of His mission in my life started.
A word for the skeptics of the manna biblical story: Whether the manna was a natural sweet syrup or juice from the desert shrub, which follows a natural course of its own to become bread; and quails, a herd of birds that make their seasonal trip across the desert from Africa at that time of the year, perching where the Israelites were; or whatever explanation given to this event by some scholars, the main lesson is—God provides at the right time.
I do not believe in accident. I believe things happen by providence. God works with us using what we have or what is available around us to lead us to what we don’t have, including the food of heaven.
What better food does the believer have than the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Eucharist? Also, that food is born from the substance of bread and wine, which, after consecration, becomes the Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The Fathers of the Church make us understand that the Old Testament manna is a figure of the Eucharist, the true manna from heaven. So, the opportunity to receive the Lord in the Eucharist is the best opportunity to see Divine Providence housed within you.
Therefore, when you receive the Lord Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament, you have received Providence himself. Talk to him and he will provide for you.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Wednesday Ordinary Time A: Readings: Ex 16:1-5; 9-15; Mt 13:1-9]
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.