He gave them bread from heaven to eat

These words, spoken by the people who had just witnessed Jesus miraculously multiply loaves and fish, contained a challenge in them.   “What sign can you do?”   they asked (John 6:30).  Can you top Moses, who gave our ancestors manna from above?   He fed us during our journey to the Promised Land.

We all know the answer:   of course Jesus can “outperform” Moses!   As he told the people, he himself is “the bread of life” (John 6:35).   He is the One who came down to redeem us and to sustain us on our journey toward his heavenly home.

Both Jesus and Moses offered their people a glimpse of all the good things they were journeying toward.   We might say that Moses reached into the Promised Land and brought back to the people a taste of the kind of abundance they were hoping for: “a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:17).   Jesus, too reached into the Promised Land of heaven and brought back to the people of his day a taste of the abundance awaiting them:   heavenly bread that “gives life to the world” (John 6:33).

But it’s not just Jesus who can reach into heaven.   In his resurrection, he has opened heaven’s gates for us.   Now every person on this earth can reach in and receive the Bread of Life.

There are many ways we can touch heaven while on earth:   through prayer, Scripture reading, caring for the poor, offering forgiveness, and loving our families.   But the most powerful and the most important way we can reach into heaven is by receiving Jesus himself, the true Bread of Life, at Mass.

Like the manna in the wilderness, this heavenly bread can nourish us on our journey through our own wilderness.   Our nourishment doesn’t come because the Eucharist contains some magical power, but because it is Jesus himself,   Body and Blood, soul and divinity.   His love, his life, his mercy, his joy, his grace—all of it is available to everyone who eats and drinks in faith.   As author Scott Hahn wrote in The Lamb’s Supper, “When we begin to see that heaven awaits us in the Mass, we begin already to bring our home to heaven.   And we begin already to bring heaven home with us.”

Word Among Us