The Hebrews, wandering in the desert, grumbled. They murmured against Moses and Aaron and God: you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger. How did God answer them? Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day (Ex. 16:3-4). It is interesting that God announced his gift to be bread but the people referred to it as manna, a Hebrew word that means, What is it? It was not like any bread they had seen before. They boiled it in pots, and made cakes of it; and the taste of it was like the taste of cakes baked with oil (Num. 11:8). They never forgot this great miracle and recorded it in verse: You nourished your people with food of angels and furnished them bread from heaven… This substance of yours revealed your sweetness toward your children (Wis. 16:20-21).
It is against the backdrop that Jesus proclaims to us, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven.” Once again, this proclaimed bread is different than any we have seen before. The Jews are incredulous and ask, how can this man give us his flesh to eat? Even with our current theological understanding it remains a mystery impossible for us to understand. Yet, today’s first reading tells us to, advance in the way of understanding and is followed by St. Paul’s encouragement: try to understand what is the will of the Lord… giving thanks always and for everything. The difficulty is with our senses. The wafer has the looks and flavor of bread but through the words of the priest there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ (CCC 1376). Holy Mother Church constantly provides us an opportunity to, taste and see that the Lord is good (Ps. 34:8).