For years I taught first grade. December was the happiest time of the school year. We would make Gingerbread men, sing holiday songs, read stories about Santa and how other people celebrated Christmas.
I remember the ‘Reindeer Food’ that my excited six-year olds carried home before the Christmas break. A snack baggie for each child filled with regular oatmeal and just a sprinkle of glitter; that made it a little magical.
The directions were to scatter the ‘reindeer food’ over the lawn on Christmas Eve before going to bed. This food was meant to help sustain the hungry flying reindeer for their long Christmas Eve deliveries.
After all Santa gets milk and cookies.
It may be a little strange but, in the book of Exodus God mysteriously provided manna each morning for the Israelites while on their long journey with Moses. If it was not collected right away each morning it melted. The Sabbath was the only day they had no manna so they were allowed to collect enough the day before to eat the next day.
While these two events are not connected I began reflecting about how Jesus is our ‘hidden’ Manna. Jesus the true hidden Manna…Hidden under his humanness.
Jesus contains the hidden manna of salvation for all of mankind. Hidden within him was everything we needed for our own journey to holiness.
Hidden within this tiny baby was the manna offered to save us. The birth of Jesus was the visible manna of love. Love from God the Father…Love from his mother Mary…Love from his earthly father, Joseph.
We too have this manna hidden within our heart. It is this manna of love that we sometimes discover has become hidden within our own hearts. Situations in life can result in love becoming hidden within our soul. Sometimes we even intentionally bury this love as a defense mechanism. Sometimes it gets so shrouded that we can no longer grasp it’s beauty.
Christmas is a time to create a heart transparent so as to see more clearly any hidden manna of love lost in the crevices of our hearts. It is up to you to look to the Lord for new sight.
Christmas is the ultimate gift of love. Who can honestly say that when gazing on a tiny newborn anything but love swells up within your being?
Christmas is a reminder each year of new life and the hope of new beginnings. Believe in your heart that God desires to bring about new life in you. Believe that God wants to do wondrous things through you. You too contain ‘hidden manna’.
Manna has become the symbol for the divine goodness of spiritual food, and hence of the Eucharist. (Jn. 6:31-35. 49) “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” (Jn. 6:51)
Christmas is needed as a yearly reminder that Jesus is always with us and will be until the end of time.This ‘hidden manna’ will make all things new. Allow Jesus to come into your heart in a new way. This year don’t take Christmas for granted look for the ‘hidden manna’. Ask God to show you that which is ‘hidden manna’ for you. What is it that would satisfy your heart’s desire to grow deeper in love with the Lord?
Let this Advent captivate your heart. Draw near and experience the taste of this ‘Manna from Heaven’ every time you receive Eucharist. Manna from Heaven given to us as food for the journey…living bread.
Of course I do not believe in flying reindeer and we are not on a quest across the desert with Moses, but I do believe in the manna from heaven given to us because of LOVE.
May your Advent be filled with LOVE!