Nowadays who knows, or cares, what 'manna' (Ex 8:2-3, 14-16) means? At one level it's food provided by God for his people in the desert. Yet it's more than that. It's a lesson to drive home a fact of life: we need more than bread for survival. We need God, and every word that comes from his mouth. This is shock therapy for the Israelites. ÖOriginally, 'manna' may have referred to a sweet resinous substance that exuded from a desert tree called tamarix mannifera.
However, (in John 6:49), this lowly substance prefigures the true, living bread from heaven. That's the bread we have access to in our modern desert. Taking it, however, may be shock therapy for us too when we realize its significance. Jesus doesn't try to explain away the giving of his body and blood as food and drink. He leaves us the mystery, the therapy and the shock.
Whether we know, or care, what 'manna' means, we should know, and care, what Eucharist means.
It means 'thanksgiving' that God is with us among us, and in us. Thatís the therapy.
But he's also in those we hate. Thatís the shock.
Adapted from Fr Tom Cahill SVD