The whole community of the sons of Israel began to complain against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness and said to them, ‘Why did we not die at the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we were able to sit down to pans of meat and could eat bread to our heart’s content! As it is, you have brought us to this wilderness to starve this whole company to death!’
Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Now I will rain down bread for you from the heavens. Each day the people are to go out and gather the day’s portion; I propose to test them in this way to see whether they will follow my law or not.
‘I have heard the complaints of the sons of Israel. Say this to them, “Between the two evenings you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have bread to your heart’s content. Then you will learn that I, the Lord, am your God.”’
And so it came about: quails flew up in the evening, and they covered the camp; in the morning there was a coating of dew all round the camp. When the coating of dew lifted, there on the surface of the desert was a thing delicate, powdery, as fine as hoarfrost on the ground. When they saw this, the sons of Israel said to one another, ‘What is that?’ not knowing what it was. ‘That’ said Moses to them ‘is the bread the Lord gives you to eat.’
Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God who has marked you with his seal for you to be set free when the day comes. Never have grudges against others, or lose your temper, or raise your voice to anybody, or call each other names, or allow any sort of spitefulness. Be friends with one another, and kind, forgiving each other as readily as God forgave you in Christ.
Try, then, to imitate God as children of his that he loves and follow Christ loving as he loved you, giving himself up in our place as a fragrant offering and a sacrifice to God.
The Jews were complaining to each other about Jesus, because he had said, ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven.’ ‘Surely this is Jesus son of Joseph’ they said. ‘We know his father and mother. How can he now say, “I have come down from heaven”?’ Jesus said in reply, ‘Stop complaining to each other.
‘No one can come to me
unless he is drawn by the Father who sent me,
and I will raise him up at the last day.
It is written in the prophets:
They will all be taught by God,
and to hear the teaching of the Father,
and learn from it,
is to come to me.
Not that anybody has seen the Father,
except the one who comes from God:
he has seen the Father.
I tell you most solemnly,
everybody who believes has eternal life.
‘I am the bread of life.
Your fathers ate the manna in the desert
and they are dead;
but this is the bread that comes down from heaven,
so that a man may eat it and not die.
I am the living bread which has come down from heaven.
Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever;
and the bread that I shall give is my flesh,
for the life of the world.’
I, the prisoner in the Lord, implore you to lead a life worthy of your vocation.
We’ve heard of the saying we lead by example. Our children see how we act and mimic our ways, good or bad, to our amazement sometimes. We may not be entirely conscious of this but every day, every moment, someone is observing us, and vice versa, and observers make judgments. We emulate, or criticize, we applaud or abhor.
God wants us to lead lives dedicated to Him, and in unity not just with the Holy Trinity, but with each and every one of us. The values that St Paul exhorts to in his letter to the Ephesians – charity, selflessness, gentleness, patience – are borne out of love… for God and for each other. If our lives reflect love, then people who observe us may be drawn to emulate the love, and in due course, come to know Christ Jesus. In such a way, then is our faith multiplied.
When Jesus performed the miracle of the loaves, he not only wanted to feed his people, he wanted them to understand and believe in the power of God: “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves” (John 14:11). He wanted them to have faith that even in such a tight situation with so little at hand, God would provide for the many thousands. He wanted them to look beyond the miracle and look for God in the miracle.
I believe that Jesus escaped into the hills on his own when he realized the people’s intention to crown him as king, because then they would see a figurehead and not the Divine God. They would miss the message. Perhaps as well, he wanted them to reflect on the works that he had done and the miracles they had seen, on their own and based on their own understanding. If the people understood and believed in God, then they would live their lives for God, multiplying their faith and others as well.
We may not see miracles such as these, but there are miracles happening around us every day if we look. God is present in each of these miracles. Let us learn to look for God in every miracle that we encounter.
(Today’s Oxygen by Annette Soo)
Prayer: Lord, help us to live lives of love, worthy to be called children of God, that others may see and learn about You and Your unending love. Help us in our own ways, to multiply our faith.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks to God Almighty for the wondrous miracles that He performs every day, from the moment we awake till we close our eyes.