The food that satisfies

By | July 23, 2009

God knows our needs better than we do and he is always working for the ultimate good of our eternal salvation. In Exodus, we


Fr. Mark Vander Steeg

find the Hebrew people crying out in despairing anger to Moses, pleading with him to return them to their place of bondage. They desired anything but this desert into which they had been led.

God however, who had heard their honest earlier cries for freedom, did not back off from his plan of deliverance. This desert was to be the place of passage into the promised land of freedom. Here they would learn to honor him, be fed by him and to trust his faithfulness. It would be a long road. God does feed them but it is with the mysterious “manna from heaven.”

“On seeing it, the Israelites asked one another, ‘What is this?’ … Moses told them, ‘This is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat.’” God will show himself always faithful, just not in the ways they envisioned. They dreamed only of full bellies, God dreamed of the fullness of eternal life.

The desire to return to places of bondage can creep into our hearts too. Even though we have been freed by grace from the bondage of overwhelming sin, in times of trial we may still yearn for the “fleshpots” of our past Egypts rather than the purified desert places with God. To this Paul says today: “Put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, put on the new self, created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth.”

This new self is found in a living communion with Jesus. “He is the image of the invisible God,” writes St. Paul elsewhere, and thus in Christ we at last see our true selves, the One in whose image we are made. To look upon Christ is to see who we are intended to be, each of us a unique perfect reflection.

Coming to know him intimately is to “feed on him.” He is the mysterious manna that satisfies the deepest hunger of the human heart. “Who am I and what was I made for?” The whole mystery of Christ reveals the answer that we are made for a dynamic eternity of love as adopted sons and daughters of God. Sadly, in the falleness of this life, many miss the point of existence and work to feed on that which does not satisfy or overcome death.

“Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father has set his seal. … I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” The pursuit of Jesus is an arduous journey marked with desert passes, yearnings for past Egypts but also meals of feasting on his presence in the Eucharist and prayer. This is the only journey worthy of effort and its success is measured by the relinquishing of the heart to God who in turn fills it with finest wheat, forever. It is arduous, but it need not be long.

Questions for reflection

1. What are the past Egypt’s for which I sometimes crave?

2. Can I endure deserts that lead to freedom?

3. When do I feed on Jesus and when do I not?


Fr. Vander Steeg is pastor of St. Mary Parish, Greenville, and St. Edward Parish, Mackville.


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