One of the events that prefigured the Eucharist is the manna in the desert, which announced the Bread from Heaven.
Human life is often like a journey through the desert. We are exposed to pain and suffering. We suffer spiritual and material hunger and thirst. When trials come, we are easily discouraged, we grumble, we become tired and give up the journey towards our promised land. But God is always there and feeds us. He is Emmanuel, God with us and God for us, the new Bread, the Bread for the life of the world.
Let us read a passage from the Book of Exodus:
They set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. And the whole congregation of the people of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in My law or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.” So Moses and Aaron said to all the people of Israel, “At evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because He has heard your murmurings against the Lord. For what are we, that you murmur against us?” And Moses said, “When the Lord gives you in the evening flesh to eat and in the morning bread to the full, because the Lord has heard your murmurings which you murmur against Him – what are we? Your murmurings are not against us but against the Lord.” And Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, ‘Come near before the Lord, for He has heard your murmurings.’” And as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. And the Lord said to Moses, “I have heard the murmurings of the people of Israel; say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat flesh, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread; then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’”
In the evening quails came up and covered the camp; and in the morning dew lay round about the camp. And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as hoarfrost on the ground. When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat. This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Gather of it, every man of you, as much as he can eat; you shall take an omer apiece, according to the number of the persons whom each of you has in his tent.’” […]
And the people of Israel ate the manna forty years, till they came to a habitable land; they ate the manna, till they came to the border of the land of Canaan. (Ex 16:1-16.35)
Get Up and Eat!
Not only the words of the prophets, but also some events from their lives and what they have experienced in their prophetical mission are a message and a teaching for the faithful.
Elijah is known for his struggle for the Unique God. One day, the experience of the godlessness of his people pushed him to despair. His prophetical life and mission became too heavy for him. He lied down under a broom tree and wanted to die, but then a new beginning happened: God did not want his death, but his life and his service. When God gives a mission to someone, He often allows him to experience his helplessness. God allows human falls in order to show His strength in our weakness. That is what happened to Elijah. An angel woke him up, made him eat bread and drink water and ordered him to continue his journey.
It is not difficult to understand the meaning of this prophetical event. The eucharistic presence of Christ is the bread for those who find themselves in deep crisis.
Let us read a passage from the First Book of Kings:
Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had slain all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” Then he was afraid, and he arose and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree; and he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am no better than my fathers.” And he lay down and slept under a broom tree; and behold, an angel touched him, and said to him, “Arise and eat.” And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank, and lay down again. And the angel of the Lord came again a second time, and touched him, and said, “Arise and eat, else the journey will be too great for you.” And he arose, and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God. (1 Kg 19:1-8)
(Barbarić, Slavko. 2018. Celebrate Mass with the heart.)