Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

To: Cronos

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam (To the Greater Glory of God)

From: Exodus 16:2-4, 9-12

The Manna
[2] And the whole congregation of the people of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, [3] 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."

[4] 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.

[9] And Moses said to Aaron, "Say to the whole congregation the people of Israel, 'Come near before the Lord, for he has heard your murmurings."' [10] 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. [11] And the Lord said to Moses, [12] "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."'


16:1-36. The prodigy of the manna and the quails was a very important sign of God's special providence towards his people while they were in the desert. It is recounted here and in Numbers 11, but in both accounts, facts are interwoven with interpretation of same and with things to do with worship and ethics.

Some scholars have argued that the manna is the same thing as a sweet secretion that comes from the tamarisk (tamarix mannifera) when punctured by a particular insect commonly found in the mountains of Sinai. The drops of this resin solidify in the coldness of the night and some fall to the ground. They have to be gathered up early in the morning because they deteriorate at twenty-four degrees temperature (almost eighty degrees Celsius). Even today desert Arabs collect them and use them for sucking and as a sweetener in confectionery.

As we know, quails cross the Sinai peninsula on their migrations back and forth between Africa and Europe or Asia. In May or June, when they return from Africa they usually rest in Sinai, exhausted after a long sea crossing; they can be easily trapped at this point.

Although these phenomenon can show where the manna and the quail come from, the important thing is that the Israelites saw them as wonders worked by God. The sacred writer stops to describe the impact the manna had on the sons of Israel. They are puzzled by it, as can be seen from their remarks when it comes for the first time: "What is it?" they ask, which in Hebrew sounds like man hu, that is, manna (v. 15), which is how the Greek translation puts it. Indeed, the need to collect it every day gave rise to complaints about some people being greedy (v. 20) and who did not understand the scope of God's gift (v. 15). And just as manna is a divine gift to meet a basic human need (nourishment), so too the divine precepts, specifically that of the sabbath, are a free gift from the Lord (v. 28). So, obedience is not a heavy burden but the exercise of a capacity to receive the good things that God gives to those who obey him.

The prodigy of the manna will resound right through the Bible: in the "Deuteronomic" tradition it is a test that God gives his people to show them that "man does not live by bread alone, but [...] by everything that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord" (Deut 8:3). The psalmist discovers that manna is "the bread of the strong" ("of angels", says the Vulgate and the RSV), which God sent in abundance (Ps 78:23ff; cf. Ps 105:40). The book of Wisdom spells out the features of this bread from heaven "ready to eat, providing every pleasure and suited to every taste" (Wis 16:20-29). And the New Testament reveals the full depth of this "spiritual" food (1 Cor 10:3), for, as the "Catechism" teaches, "manna in the desert prefigured the Eucharist, 'the true bread from heaven' (Jn 6:32)" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1094).

16:1. From the Byzantine period onwards, Christian tradition has identified Sinai with the range of mountains in the south of the Sinai peninsula; these mountains go as high as 2,500 metres (8,200 feet) above sea level.

The main mountains are Djébel Serbal, Djebel Katerina and Djebel Müsa, the last mentioned of which tradition regards as Mount Sinai or Horeb. At the foot of this mountain lies the monastery of St Catherine. The desert of Sin (different from the desert of the same name running along the side of the Dead Sea: cf. the note on Num 20:1-19), is very near to this; people involved in mining the copper and turquoise that is found there used to camp there temporarily.

16:2-3. The complaining that usually precedes the desert prodigies (cf. 14:11; 15:24; 17:3; Num 11:1, 4; 14:2; 20:2; 21:4-5) brings into focus the chosen people's lack of faith and hope, and (by contrast) the faithfulness of God, who time and again alleviates their needs even though they do not deserve it. At the same time, just as Moses and Aaron listened patiently to complaints, God too is always ready to dialogue with the sinner, sometimes listening to his complaints and sorting them out, and sometimes simply giving him a chance to repent: "Although God could inflict punishment on those whom he condemns without saying anything, he does not do so; on the contrary, up to the point when he does condemn, he speaks with the guilty person and lets him talk, so as to help him avoid condemnation" (Origen, Homiliae in leremiam, 1, 1).

5 posted on 07/31/2021 10:02:17 PM PDT by fidelis (Defeatism and despair are like poison to men's souls. If you can't be positive, at least be quiet.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies ]

To: fidelis
From: Ephesians 4:17, 20-24

Spiritual Renewal
[17] Now this I affirm and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. [20] You did not so learn Christ!--[21] assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus. [22] Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, [23] and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, [24] and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.


17-19. The Christian, who has been configured to Christ by Baptism, is called to holiness and therefore should not lead a dissolute life alienated from God, as the Gentiles do. The "futility of their minds" has led them away from God, the source of all truth (cf. Rom 1:18-32). Hence it is that when man is put in the place of God the mind operates in a vacuum and the resulting knowledge produces nothing but mere illusion and total deceit.

As St Paul tells the Romans, people who act in that way are those "who by their wickedness suppress the truth" (Rom 1:18). It is true that the human mind is capable of recognizing God as the creator of all things; but when people give their passions full rein, their will becomes weakened; they thus suppress the truth and their minds easily tend to adopt wrong ideas. All this is a result of arrogance and pride which makes man unwilling to accept God and acknowledge his own limitations as a creature: this eventually leads to the "ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart" (v. 18).

Impurity opens the way to a whole series of vices and disorders connected with greed (cf. notes on Rom 1:29-31 and Rom 1:32). The term "callous" is used to indicate that these people lost their desire to try to lead a good life and even lose their very sense of morality.

22-24. The sacred text emphasizes two basic points--one's duty to put off one's "old nature" (the "old man") and, in parallel with that, the urgent need to put on the "new nature" (the "new man"). These two expressions refer directly to the symbolism of Christian Baptism, which effects the transition from the life of sin to the life of grace, thanks to the merits of Christ (cf. Rom 6:3-11).

In Baptism we have "put on Christ" (Gal 3:27) and become "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Pet 1:4). From that moment onwards a Christian's life is so radically different that to revert to one's previous--pagan--conduct is the greatest insult we could offer the body of Christ. St Paul, therefore, is not just exhorting people to root out this or that defect, but to strip themselves of the "old nature” entirely.

The "old nature" is the carnal man, vitiated from conception by original sin and become the slave of his own passions; whereas, the "new man" has been born again through the Holy Spirit at Baptism: he is no longer ruled by sin, although he is still subject to passions which have been made unruly by sin. That is why the Apostle urges us to put off the "old nature" by fighting against disordered desires and their evil effects (cf. Rom 6:12-14; 8:5-8) and by being conscious that the renewal brought about by the Holy Spirit helps the baptized person to see each and every event in his life from a new, supernatural perspective, as befits the "new man".

The change from the old to the new nature St Paul describes in terms of creation (v. 24). It does not involve any external change, as when someone changes his clothes, but rather an inner renewal, whereby the Christian, by becoming a new creature in Jesus Christ, is enabled to practise righteousness and holiness in a manner that exceeds his natural human capacity. It is not enough, then, for one to have simply a veneer of piety. "Entering the church and venerating sacred images and crosses is not sufficient for pleasing God, just as washing one's hands does not make one clean all over. What truly pleases God is that a person flees from sin and gets rid of his stains by means of confession and penance. Let him break the chains of his faults by being humble of heart" (St Anastasius of Sinai, Sermon on the Holy Synaxis).

This inner renewal of the person is something which takes a lifetime. "The power of God is made manifest in our weakness and it spurs us on to fight, to battle against our defects, although we know that we will never achieve total victory during our pilgrimage on earth. The Christian life is a continuous beginning again each day. It renews itself over and over" (St. J. Escriva, Christ Is Passing By, 114).

6 posted on 07/31/2021 10:02:54 PM PDT by fidelis (Defeatism and despair are like poison to men's souls. If you can't be positive, at least be quiet.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies ]

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson