The angel of the LORD commanded Elijah: “Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!” We can take this command for ourselves in relation to the Eucharist and our earthly journey toward Heaven.
Strengthened by the food the angel provided, Elijah walked for forty days and nights to the mountain of God. This reminds us of the forty desert years of the Exodus and prefigures Jesus’ own forty days of temptation in the desert. After a long period of trial, we will enter into God’s Promised Land. We are not promised an easy journey, but a worthy reward. We will grow tired, hungry, and thirsty. We will need to rely on God’s providence to reach our goal. We simply do not have the strength to reach Heaven on our own. We need God’s sustenance—we need Jesus in the Eucharist.
As Saint Paul reminds us, “Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God.” The Bread of Life is Jesus Christ’s self-offering to the Father. This is what makes Him the Christ—Jesus is the anointed gift worthy of our redemption, acceptable to the Father, and the price of our ransom. He gives his flesh for the life of the world. In this self-gift the sacrifices of the ancient temple worship are fulfilled. The manna in the desert was the prefiguration of this True Bread that sustains life for eternity.
Without this Bread we cannot live. Jesus sustains us now with His Body and Blood so that we might make it through the desert of this life and enter the abundance of eternal life in Heaven.