The Lord spoke to Moses in the Desert of Sinai in the first month of the second year after they came out of Egypt. He said, “Have the Israelites celebrate the Passover at the appointed time.”~ Numbers 9:1, 2 NIV
“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.” ~ Psalm 23:5a, KJV
” And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”~ Luke 22:19
The desert is a place of spiritual battle. It is place where one withdraws from the world to confront the enemies of self, the devil and his demons. At this place, our enemies have less advantage for their ally in the world has diminished. Yet at the same time they’re presence and one’s awareness of them seems to increase. They no longer hide among the shifting shadows of the world but come out in all of their ugly colors and shapes. Here at this place, the Lord, our Good Shepherd, prepares a table before us. I’ve often seen this as a reference to the Table of the Lord. It suggests the provision of manna in the desert and the new bread from heaven, the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because this sacrifice is our deliverance the proper context of enjoining in this table is that of eucharista or thanksgiving.
We must let each reminder of life, which is always a miracle in the desert, be a place to turn our eyes in thankfulness to our heavenly Father. We find then the tapestry of our life embedded with treasures and blessings from God the deepest being his very presence that is with us. Christ in the desert with us, Christ, Immanuel. A Brother from the Benedictine Abbey of Christ in the desert wrote: “It [the desert] is both a place of testing and a place of supplication; a crucible and a ciborium.” The Israelites celebrated passover for the first time when they were fleeing the Egyptians bent on destroying them. Judas sat at Jesus’ table and Jesus was about to begin his passion when he celebrated passover and gave thanks. In the presence of our enemies we must face the glory of the crucified one who comes present to us in bread and wine. Whether we literally partake of the Sacrament of the Altar or we contemplate it spiritually we must be in touch with Christ the source of life. It is his passion and bitter suffering that is our victory over the forces of darkness within and without us. In the midst of spiritual battle we must look to him and give thanks.