Reflection on the Daily Readings for 4/28/09 by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Scripture for Tues. of 3 week of Easter. Acts 7:51-8:1. Psalm
31:3-220.127.116.11.17.21. John 6:30-35. Lectionary # 274:
We are now into the great proclamation of Jesus, the Bread of Life.
Jesus catches the ears of the crowd by explaining how he is the Bread of
Life while taking them back into the story of their liberation from the
Egyptians during the Exodus Event. The exchange between Jesus and the
people can be better understood if we read chapter 16 of Exodus for this
passage. He is using the sign that God gave the Israelites in the desert
that enabled them to continue on the journey to the promised land, that
sign was the Manna. He compares himself to that gift by surpassing it in
saying that he is the real bread that comes down from heaven. There is a
positive response on the part of the listeners who see in this new manna a
sign. The crowd says, “Sir, give us this bread always. They besought him.”
The Israelites, after the Exodus, celebrate in ritual all of the
events connected with their miraculous deliverance into freedom. They
recall the manna and the quail given them to sustain them on their way to
what will be their permanent home. They have also been fed with the word of
God to them through Moses. But now some twelve hundred years later it is
Jesus who recalls these things to the people by saying he is the true Manna
come down from God (Exodus 16:31). Jesus gives himself as manna through the
element of bread.
In the excellent Jewish Study Bible there is this interpretation for
16:31 of Exodus: “In essence the word (manna) means “watchamacallit” and
expresses the manna’s unprecedented character in Israelite experience.
Tasted: “Numbers 11:8, a different tradition says,”It (the manna) tasted
like rich cream” and notes various ways to prepare it. This gave rise to
the rabbinic tradition that the manna had many different tastes suiting the
palate of each person.” Our “Communion Songs” often reflect this
difference in taste; for example, “You satisfy the hungry heart with bread
of finest wheat”…Amen.