(Exodus 16:2-4,12-15; Psalm 78:3-4,23-25,54; Ephesians 4:17,20-24; John 6:24-35)
“My Father gives you the true bread from heaven.” (John 6:32)
After another long day of traveling in the desert, you and your fellow Israelites are tired, hungry, and discouraged. “Is the Lord in our midst or not?” you demand (Exodus 17:7). But the next morning, you awake to find a white, wafer-like substance covering the ground, and you hear Moses calling out: “This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat” (Exodus 16:15).
We are pretty familiar with the story of the manna in the desert. But did you know that this “heavenly bread” was so valuable that the Israelites placed a vessel filled with manna in the ark of the covenant? There it stayed for generations as a constant reminder of God’s care and presence among them.
We continue this tradition today by reserving the Blessed Sacrament in a tabernacle in every church. This tabernacle stands as a new “ark of the covenant,” reminding us of the new covenant that God made with us in Christ. But it does so much more than that. We believe that the bread in our tabernacles is not just flour and water. It is the body of Christ. In a wonderful, sacramental way, Jesus is present in the tabernacle. He is there to remind us of our new covenant but also to welcome us whenever we come to pray to him. He is there to speak to us, to minister to us, and to lift our hearts up to heaven. Blessed Pope John Paul II captured this beautifully when he wrote:
It is pleasant to spend time with [Jesus], to lie close to his breast like the Beloved Disciple and to feel the infinite love present in his heart… . How often, dear brothers and sisters, have I experienced this, and drawn from it strength, consolation and support! (On the Eucharist, 25) Jesus is waiting for you in the tab
ernacle. Try to carve out some time this week to rest in his presence.
“All glory to you, Jesus! You never sleep nor slumber. Come, Lord and deepen our love for you, the Bread of Life!”~WAU