The editorial of the month

The editorial of the month by Léonie Caldecott

The term “divine providence” is often used to signify God’s intervention in our lives. We also use it, capitalised, as a way of characterising the very nature of God, as he wades into human history: Divine Providence.

In the reading from Exodus (chapter 16) with which the Masses for this month open, the Israelites have left the apparent security of slavery for the insecure freedom that God, in his providence, has offered them. As they come to terms with their new status, the exhausted exiles go through an ungrateful, “hangry” moment. Yet God responds without hesitation: In the morning you shall have bread to your heart’s contentThen you will learn that I, the Lord, am your God (Ex 16:12).

The manna that literally falls down from heaven is God’s way of proving that he loves them. It is a divine attribute to provide. This foundational experience explains the impact of Jesus feeding the five thousand: the miracle that prompts, in the Gospel of John, the first revelation of the coming Eucharistic feast. Being fed, being nurtured, is at the core of our faith. It is how God chooses to communicate his very nature to us. Is there a man among you who would hand his son a stone when he asked for bread? (Mt 7:9)

On a day to day level, offering a visitor a cup of tea or placing a casserole on the doorstep of a family in crisis are obvious means of communicating our common humanity. If that humanity is infused with faith, we want to nurture more than just the human body. The divine food that our faith provides us with spills out in acts of nurturance. This is what marks out the Church as the body of Christ, the profoundly thankful (eu-charistic) people of God.