Eighteen Sunday (B)
Manhu

This title is not a Japanese of Chinese word. This is what the Israelites will say in today first reading when they will see "In the morning a dew lay all about the camp, and when the dew evaporated, there on the surface of the desert were fine flakes like hoarfrost on the ground. On seeing it, the Israelites asked one another, "what is this" (in Hebrew manhu and from it came the word manna).

This "manhu" is also called "bread from heaven" "God rained manna upon them for food; bread from heaven he gave them". Psalm 77, 78:24

St. John 6: 30-59 will mention the manna when he will speak about the bread of life, which is the body of Christ. "What sing can you do, that we may see and believe in you? ... Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat." So Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world...I am the bread of life ... because I came down from heaven ... The Jews murmured about him because he said, "I am the bread that came down from heaven," ...Jesus answered and said to them, "Stop murmuring among yourselves ...I am the living of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died ... I am bread that came down from heaven, whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world ..."

This "manhu" will be then the symbol of our communion of the body of Christ at mass. In fact Theophylact (c.1050-1109) a theologian and archbishop of Ochrida in Bulgaria and who was using the Slavonic language, said: "Our Lord refers to himself as the true bread not because the manna was something illusory, but because it was only a type and shadow, and not the reality it signified".

And he continues "Jesus said to the people: "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me shall never hunger ... He did not say "the bread of bodily nourishement," but " the bread of life. "For when everything had been reduced to a condition of spiritual death, the Lord gave us life through himself, who is bread because, as we beleive, the leaven in the dough of our humanity was baked through and through by the fire of his divitiy. He is the bread not of this ordinary life, but of a very different kind of life which death will never cut short" (Theophylcat, Commentary on John's Gospel: PG 123, 1297-1301)

You will be tempted to see in the Holy Communion just a kind of practice. You come to mass, then you share with all people the body and blood of Christ, without just thinking of what this communion impact.

In the life of the Israelite this "manhu" was a sign that they are loved, cared and chosen by God. As long as they had this bread they will feel, despite some grumble from time to time, as the people of God. This same "manhu" made from them one body with the God of the Old Testament.

Does the communion make from you the same?
One body with the God of the New Testament, Jesus!
One body with the people that share the same bread of heaven!
One world, one community, one church, one family!

Remember these words of St. Paul: "A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are ill and infirm, and a considerable number are dying. If we discern ourselves, we would not be under judgment." 1cor. 11: 28-32