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! : Well the first thing we can say is that maybe this isn’t the point of our life. Life is not all having a good time and being full of good things all the time and being self satisfied and comfortable. What then is life about?
The Lord begins to answer this question through their own question: why did we not die at the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt? The answer is because the Lord loved them. And he loves us. And so He wanted to set them free to be themselves – that is, to be gifts to others, because the way they were living their life was not really to be gifts to others. And we see this – their main preoccupation and idea about life was to fill their cup and have a good time.
As the Israelites say As it is, you have brought us to this wilderness to starve this whole company to death!’ And they are right. The Lord does want them to die, – to die to their slavery. We know they are still slaves because while no longer in Egypt they talk like slaves – slaves to their desires and to the cries of their bodies and to evil, rather than the love and preoccupation of the other. And of course this is the same for us, for the sufferings we live in Him. To set us free from the evil which dominates us, the Lord’s sends his Angels to kill it, and because we have a disordered attachment to these things, when it dies it really hurts us. But it is a liberation.
But what is important is that that the Lord does not simply leave us to die. ‘Now I will rain down bread for you from the heavens. …you shall have bread to your heart’s content. Then you will learn that I, the Lord, am your God.”’ This nourishment of course is particularly the Eucharist, and more broadly, His Way. In giving himself to us, he gives us the nourishment we need, and he shows us the way – shows us the way to happiness – giving ourselves to Him and others out of love. This why they are content: in eating him and his teaching, they find their heart’s desire.
If it is their heart’s desire, why then do they say, ‘What is that?’ not knowing what it was. ‘That’ said Moses to them ‘is the bread the Lord gives you to eat.’ The freedom the Lord wants to give us is so good and true that we in our sins are unfamiliar with it and we don’t want to choose it. But this is the key distinction about Christianity: it does not give what is fashionable or popular. Christianity is totally different: God himself feeds us with our heart’s true desire.
This is the key to living the unfamiliar unpleasant things which happen in our life. It is God’s own way, and God’s own food, and it is perfect – so while I may not recognise it or it initially seems difficult, because I am not used to it, because I am a Christian I choose, not to fear it, but to receive it and integrate it into my life. We can do this, because we know he loves us: he gives us his Body each Sunday. The Lord is leading us to the desert to liberate us, and it is working, and he knows what he is doing. The question is if we prefer to be dragged in by the Lord kicking and screaming and complaining about how hard His teaching is, or whether we will let him lead us walking in upright, as an adult, growing quickly as free men and women.