I was wrong when I wrote last week that we were living in a drought. It’s actually a famine. Truth and character are in short supply in our culture. But that condition is really no different from Moses’ time when the Israelites were grumbling in the desert that Moses got them into this mess and should do something to get them out of it.
“Why did we not die at Yahweh’s hand in Egypt, where we used to sit round the flesh pots and could eat to our heart’s content! As it is, you have led us into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death!”
So God gave them Manna for their physical hunger and Moses for their spiritual hunger. And in today’s Gospel it’s Jesus who who represents the source of nourishment for the people’s starved souls. And after Jesus it was the disciples, as St. Paul says in today’s letter to the Ephesians:
“Do not go on living the empty-headed life that the gentiles live. Now that is hardly the way you have learnt Christ, unless you failed to hear him properly when you were taught what the truth is in Jesus. You were to put aside your old self, which belongs to your old way of life and is corrupted by following illusory desires.”
Paul could have been writing that in the 21st century. In fact in today’s newspaper, a teacher seems to be channeling Paul as he berates today’s students for cheating in school as if it were an acceptable practice–and indeed placing part of the blame on schools for making it seem acceptable.
“Our school’s policy is to forgive the first offense and enter it into the student’s permanent record only if caught again.” “If caught.” Our culture and its technology have taught us that stealing ideas is acceptable and is not equivalent to stealing property. So parents have no problem with their children receiving answers to a test before taking it, considering it a form of research.
This is a famine of character, and it’s due in part to our flawed human nature, which goes back to before the days of Moses, all the way to when Adam and Eve were caught cheating on the test God gave them. Today’s humans may be lightyears ahead of our ancestors in terms of technology, but in spirit we’re just as starved for truth. Which is why Jesus’ teachings are still so relevant centuries after he was crucified and rose from the dead. Much like today’s plentiful food supplies, it’s not the source that’s the problem, it’s the distribution. And that’s up to us.