From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; but the people became impatient on the way. The people spoke against God and against Moses, ‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food.’ Then the Lord sent poisonous serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, ‘We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord to take away the serpents from us.’ So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.’ So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live. (Numbers 21:4-9)
We visited the apparition of Jesus at Emmaus in previous posts. I believe there is a simple teaching there, that the Eucharist is Jesus and Jesus will not be separated from His flock. If He is no longer visible, the Eucharist He left behind is not only visible but edible. That elevated His presence among us to the level of Communion. Before the Eucharist, the Church was standing before Him, hearing and seeing Him but now something more transcendent is here that allows us to be in Him and Him to be in us.
The passage of Numbers quoted above is prophetic. In my view it is a warning that one day the Church is going to reject the Eucharist at one point in the near future to favor a communion with the world, a union of faiths perhaps. Fr. Leonardo Castellani, a prophet of our times, warned us about it long ago:
“The Church, assisted by the Holy Spirit, impedes that manifestation and lessens it, resting on the human order that the Roman Empire organized in a body of laws and political practice; but the day will come for the end of this age, and the One who now holds it back, the Obstacle, will be removed. The Holy Spirit will perhaps abandon that social-historical body we call Christendom, sending his own to the most barren isolation, giving them “the wings of the great eagle to fly to the wilderness.” And then the existing temporal structure of the Church will be caught by the Antichrist and will fornicate with the kings of the Earth (if not all the Church, at least a noticeable part of it, as it has already happened in history) and the abomination of desolation will enter the holy place. “So when you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ standing where it ought not …” then it is fulfilled.” (Cristo ¿vuelve o no vuelve? 1951 by Paucis Pango, chapter 6 p. 30 “The Mystery of Iniquity.”)
When “it is fulfilled” the abomination of desolation will necessitate the abolition of the Eucharist. At that precise moment, Christ will intervene to restore the Church. The faithful will wait for that glorious restoration “in the wilderness” patiently trusting in the divine promise.
Some in Israel called the bread from Heaven “this miserable food” — calling the disfavor of God upon themselves. Perhaps we can do better than them this time. Let us bless the Heavenly Bread and seek the Giver of Life. That is the only safe refuge, to be “in Him” as the world dissolves around us.
Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.’ (John 6:47-51)