Summary: Complaining became the rubric under which the journey was interpreted.
It always begins with a legitimate need followed by a complaint.
[Source: Complaining became “the rubric under which the journey was interpreted.” Brevard S. Childs, The Book of Exodus: A Critical, Theological Commentary, OTL (Louisville: The Westminster Press, 1974), 256.]
The whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron; our Gospel says.
A priest I know asks, “Do you seek the bread given by the father, or do you seek the father who gives you bread?” which means, we need to seek the Father because bread will there.
[source: Sahaya G. Selvam, sdb, PhD.]
Jesus says, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”
Do we seek the bread of life given by Jesus or do we seek Jesus who gives us the bread of life?
Father Dennis Gill explains: The Eucharist alone cannot typically sustain a Christian life. We need the Scriptures [in the Liturgy of the Hours] and the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation (see 1 Cor. 11:27-28).
When we seek Jesus first, he frees us from all our sins, which gives us the proper dispositions to receive his Most Holy Body and Blood in the Eucharist.
The crowds following Jesus did not understand this and wanted a sign: which was to be given bread every day.
A lesson for us is that our hunger needs purification because our desires can be unruly; our Second Reading calls them “deceitful desires,” done in the futility of the mind with emptiness, purposelessness, and frustration (and complaining.)
I conclude with a summary illustration:
e.g. Napoleon Bonaparte had conquered almost all of Europe with his might. No one could resist his leadership and war technique. Soon, he went to conquer Russia.
He moved to Russia with a large army. Knowing the advance of Napoleon, the Russian people destroyed all their fields and crops. Taking the cows with them they moved to the interior part of the country abandoning their houses.
The French army could find only the burnt-out fields and empty villages at their arrival in Russia. They were in trouble. They had nothing to eat. Soldiers starved to death. Then winter came. Napoleon was forced to call back his army. Only one sixth of Napoleon’s army survived on their return.
But then the enemies attacked Napoleon and his worn-out army. On March 30, 1814, the French army was defeated. Napoleon was dethroned and deported.
Similarly, Satan puts traps for those who are strong in their faith. Like the Russians, he knows that he can’t win in a face-to-face encounter. So, he hides and blocks the food and water which sustain the individual.
As we lose our zeal for the Holy Eucharist, the Word of God and prayer, we will feel a terrible scarcity of spiritual food. Reluctance to repent and aversion to sacraments will make us weak and morally powerless. Knowing that we are fragile, he will start his direct fight against us. Therefore, we should never ignore the importance of spiritual food, however great and strong we may be.