Lent with the Book of Exodus (Ch 16)
February 29, 2024
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.
Exodus 16 (Thursday of the Second Week of Lent)

They took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt. The whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron in the wilderness; and the children of Israel said to them, “We wish that we had died by Yahweh’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots, when we ate our fill of bread, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

Then Yahweh said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from the sky for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not. It shall come to pass on the sixth day, that they shall prepare that which they bring in, and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.”

Moses and Aaron said to all the children of Israel, “At evening, you shall know that Yahweh has brought you out from the land of Egypt. In the morning, you shall see Yahweh’s glory; because he hears your murmurings against Yahweh. Who are we, that you murmur against us?” Moses said, “Now Yahweh will give you meat to eat in the evening, and in the morning bread to satisfy you, because Yahweh hears your murmurings which you murmur against him. And who are we? Your murmurings are not against us, but against Yahweh.” Moses said to Aaron, “Tell all the congregation of the children of Israel, ‘Come close to Yahweh, for he has heard your murmurings.’” As Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the children of Israel, they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, Yahweh’s glory appeared in the cloud. Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, “I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel. Speak to them, saying, ‘At evening you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am Yahweh your God.’”

In the evening, quail came up and covered the camp; and in the morning the dew lay around the camp. When the dew that lay had gone, behold, on the surface of the wilderness was a small round thing, small as the frost on the ground. When the children of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they didn’t know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread which Yahweh has given you to eat. This is the thing which Yahweh has commanded: ‘Gather of it everyone according to his eating; an omer a head, according to the number of your persons, you shall take it, every man for those who are in his tent.’” The children of Israel did so, and some gathered more, some less. When they measured it with an omer, he who gathered much had nothing over, and he who gathered little had no lack. They each gathered according to his eating. Moses said to them, “Let no one leave of it until the morning.” Notwithstanding they didn’t listen to Moses, but some of them left of it until the morning, so it bred worms and became foul; and Moses was angry with them. They gathered it morning by morning, everyone according to his eating. When the sun grew hot, it melted. On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one; and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. He said to them, “This is that which Yahweh has spoken, ‘Tomorrow is a solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to Yahweh. Bake that which you want to bake, and boil that which you want to boil; and all that remains over lay up for yourselves to be kept until the morning.’” They laid it up until the morning, as Moses ordered, and it didn’t become foul, and there were no worms in it. Moses said, “Eat that today, for today is a Sabbath to Yahweh. Today you shall not find it in the field. Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day is the Sabbath. In it there shall be none.” On the seventh day, some of the people went out to gather, and they found none. Yahweh said to Moses, “How long do you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws? Behold, because Yahweh has given you the Sabbath, therefore he gives you on the sixth day the bread of two days. Everyone stay in his place. Let no one go out of his place on the seventh day.” So the people rested on the seventh day.

The house of Israel called its name “Manna”, and it was like coriander seed, white; and its taste was like wafers with honey. Moses said, “This is the thing which Yahweh has commanded, ‘Let an omer-full of it be kept throughout your generations, that they may see the bread with which I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.’” Moses said to Aaron, “Take a pot, and put an omer-full of manna in it, and lay it up before Yahweh, to be kept throughout your generations.” As Yahweh commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept. The children of Israel ate the manna forty years, until they came to an inhabited land. They ate the manna until they came to the borders of the land of Canaan. Now an omer is one tenth of an ephah.

We shall think of the manna as a figure foreshadowing the teaching and the spiritual gifts of Christ. These also are from heaven, and have nothing earthly about them. They produce no physical nausea, and are real food not only of men but of angels as well. In his own person the Son has revealed the Father to us, and through the Son we have come to believe the teaching about the holy and consubstantial Trinity, and have been well and truly guided into all the paths of virtue. The orthodox and unadulterated knowledge of these things is the food of the spirit To the people of old the manna was given at dawn, as the light began to shine, because the wealth of Christ’s teaching would be distributed so to speak by daylight The day has dawned upon us who believe, as Scripture says; the morning star has risen in all our hearts, and the Sun of Righteousness, Christ, the giver of spiritual manna, has appeared. From his own words to the Jews we can be certain that Christ himself is the true manna, and the material manna was but an image: Your ancestors ate manna in the desert and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven so that anyone who eats it may never die. I am the living bread come down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. The bread I shall give is my flesh which I shall give for the life of the world. Our Lord Jesus Christ nourishes us for eternal life both by his commands, which teach us how to live holy lives, and by the Eucharist. In himself, therefore, he is truly the divine, life-giving manna. Anyone who eats it will be exempt from corruption and will escape death, unlike those who ate the material manna. The type had no power to save, but was merely an imitation of the reality.  God sent down manna like rain from above, and ordered everyone to gather as much as necessary, those who shared a tent gathering together if they wished. Gather it, each of you, he said, with those who share your tent. Let none of it be left over till the morning. That is to say, we must fill ourselves with the divine teaching of the Gospel. (Cyril of Alexandria)
Musical Selection (Kevin Allen)
Panem de caélo dedísti nobis, Dómine, habéntem omne delectaméntum, et omnem sapórem suavitátis. (Wisdom 16:20) 
Thou hast given us, O Lord, bread from heaven, having in it all that is delicious, and the sweetness of every taste.
Lord God,
you love innocence
and you restore it in those who have sinned.
Turn back our wayward hearts to you
and inflame them with your Holy Spirit,
that we may be steadfast in faith
and effective in the works of love.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever. Amen.