Exodus 16:1-5, 9-15
The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”
Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.”
Then Moses told Aaron, “Say to the entire Israelite community, ‘Come before the Lord, for he has heard your grumbling.’”
While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the Lord appearing in the cloud.
The Lord said to Moses, “I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.’”
That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was.
Moses said to them, “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat.”
Psalm 78:18-19, 23-28
They willfully put God to the test
by demanding the food they craved.
They spoke against God;
they said, “Can God really
spread a table in the wilderness?
Yet he gave a command to the skies above
and opened the doors of the heavens;
he rained down manna for the people to eat,
he gave them the grain of heaven.
Human beings ate the bread of angels;
he sent them all the food they could eat.
He let loose the east wind from the heavens
and by his power made the south wind blow.
He rained meat down on them like dust,
birds like sand on the seashore.
He made them come down inside their camp,
all around their tents.
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”
We read two accounts today of God’s provision for His people, if they will receive it. In Genesis, God sends the miracle of the manna, the bread from heaven that appears on the ground for the people to gather and be fed in the wilderness, an inhospitable environment lacking food. And in the Gospel, Jesus tells the parable of the sower, who scatters grain, which provides bread, upon the ground into all sorts of environments, both hospitable and inhospitable. In both passages, we see this figure of bread cast upon the ground in unlikely places. But how do the places, and the people in them, receive the bread?
In Genesis, not only is the desert an arid environment where food cannot grow, but the people in it seem to have an aridity of heart and have not grown in faith. The Israelites in the desert do not ask or trust God for food, but immediately grumble, suggest He has left them to die, and put God to the test. So God puts them to the test, by again showing His power to save them and providing them food, but also giving them instructions and inviting them to cooperate with Him in receiving this food. God’s generosity and provision are there for the taking, literally strewn all over the ground, for anyone who will hearken, obey, and believe.
In the gospel parable also, the sower of seed exhibits this generosity in strewing food all over the ground for the soil that will take it and nourish it. We later learn, of course, that the grain in the story is a figure of the Word of God. As with the manna of the Old Testament, God has sent from heaven to earth His Word made flesh, and the Bread from Heaven, Jesus Christ, to feed our souls and give us the good news of salvation. This generous gift is given to all, whether they will receive it or not. The choice, as the parable shows us, is ours to make.
Am I feeling fed or hungry in my spiritual life? Do I believe in God’s provision, or do I doubt and fear I will be forgotten? Do I receive the word of God with joy and nourish it? Or are there any birds, or rocks, or thorns in my life that are keeping me from growing closer to God and growing as a disciple?
Today, let’s seek Our Father in prayer, confident that He has already met our needs, and ask Him for more of Jesus to help us listen, obey, and believe.