Manna & Body of Christ

Indeed, we are all grumblers. It’s the bread that we eat out there, and it’s the bread that we eat in here but don’t believe. It’s the whole wheat, rye, marble, croissant, muffin versus the living Christ. “We live as hungry people in a hungry world. Everyone is looking for something that will sustain and nourish life, feed and energize, be filling, and satisfy. Everyone is looking for bread. The problem is not that we are hungry, but it’s the kind of bread we eat.


The grumbling isn’t always oral. It’s the grumbling of continuing violence both in killing and in our killing thoughts and words. Republicans and Democrats [even] share [their] bread of negativity, hostility, and name-calling.” (Isn’t that wonderful, they share the same bread!) It’s the grumbling that so quickly “objectifies and depersonalizes another human being. Many of us eat the bread of having to be right and get our way. We eat the [grumbling] bread of hurt feelings and resentment. [It festers in our heads for so long that it finally makes it to a rigid heart.] Sometimes we [gobble up the grumbling] bread of loneliness, fear, and isolation. [How many times do we so easily grumblingly swallow] times of sorrow or guilt. [Not very nourishing, but it sure feels good to grumble away as long as possible. How about the attitudes of the all-consuming] bread of power and control, revenge or oneupmanship. We eat all kinds of bread. The bread we eat reveals something about the nature of our appetites.” What rumbles away in our stomachs but never touching the soul.


Just yesterday in the Gospel, Jesus fed over 5000 people with leftovers. Today, these guys are now worried about their next meal! They missed the miracle of God’s generosity and still doubt who this rabbi guy is. They are interested only in their own appetites, and Jesus knows it.


You don’t eat bread when you’re full. You eat when you feel empty, hungry, and your stomach makes those funny, grumbling sounds. You may wish to take notes for this next part. There are three essential components to any sandwich: bread, the filling, and the spread. The substance of the Body of Christ is the visible bread. The filling is honoring and living that life of Christ. The spread is our witness and sharing the receiving of this miracle to all that we love and meet. 


This sandwiched filling called the Body of Christ is not a reward for a good life lived the past week. The Body of Christ is the filling of ourselves with the love of the risen Christ. Challenging, changing, consoling. The receiving of the Body of Christ always looks forward.
Some forward motions in receiving the Body of Christ and its grace-filled effects? Here’s a list of four, but you all add more to your life journey. A modification? Perhaps a strengthening, always good to build upon? Maybe a profound reminder about ourselves? Or still, an honest and a true return about our actions within ourselves, toward our community, or about our government?


Modifying silly, unChristian thoughts or questionable behaviors…a strengthening of all of the goodness found in your life…a reminder of all the new potential that springs from living a worthy life…a return to those baptismal promises of being a servant to others, a prophet of knowing the present person you are and now planning for the better person we can all seek to become. 


You know, in presenting the host to you, the communion minister doesn’t say, “The Body of Jesus.” The statement is “The Body of Christ.” The human part of him died, but the risen is the Christ offered to us as often as we can receive it. (whispering) And, between you and me, you may also remember that as a congregation, we are called, get this, “The Body of Christ.” That’s why we process forward to receive the host. It’s the motion of walking toward the future with a fellow traveler in front of and behind you. While walking forward for communion, think of a small thought or prayer for the one in front and behind you. With each one of you hoping to quench the grumblings of our souls. Soulful grumblings that need far more attention than the sounds from your stomach.


So, if you enjoy the grumbling and eating dead-end manna, then grumble away and enjoy yourself. Because that fleeting human emotion of satisfaction evaporates every single morning. 


Receiving the Body of Christ is not a reward. 

I was about to say, “stop your grumbling.” But that ain’t ever gonna happen. That’s why the Mass begins with admitting our grumbles and seeking God’s forgiveness. That’s why the Mass ends with the Eucharistic commission to live the Bread of Life you received and then live it to the best of your ability.

About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). www.Salvatorians.com. Serving as Administrator, St. Catherine of Alexandria, 8661 N. 76 Place, Milwaukee, WI. 53223. www.stcatherinemke.org. Six books on the Catholic church and U.S. culture are available on Amazon.com.
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