Memorial of Saint Stanislaus, Bishop and Martyr

Lectionary: 273

“Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs
but because you ate the loaves and were filled.
Do not work for food that perishes
but for the food that endures for eternal life,
which the Son of Man will give you.

During this third week of Easter the Church ponders the “food that endures for eternal life.” We might call it Eucharist or the Mass or the Blessed Sacrament but being quick to name the mystery may actually stifle our contemplation. When the Church “defines” a mystery it mostly declares what it is not; hopefully leaving the mystery intact and available for amazement.

We find that amazement in those who pursued Jesus across the Sea of Galilee. They knew he didn’t get into the boat with his disciples, they didn’t see him walking around the coast, so they ask, “How did you get here?”  

This curious incident might not seem a big deal but that’s the genius of Saint John; he can turn a simple inquiry into the sounding of a fathomless wonder. Jesus’ reply heads for the depths: “You are looking for me not because you saw signs…”

They saw the amazing event: his feeding five thousand. But they utterly missed the point. They want to utilize Jesus. They might be asking, “How can we capitalize on this opportunity? Can we set up a shrine, a local industry? Will he consent to rule over us? Can we bottle this guy? ”

Jesus chides them, “you ate the loaves and were filled,” but you did not see the sign. Had no one recalled that God provided for his people in the desert after their escape from Egypt? The similarity was explicit; in fact, “The Jewish feast of Passover was near!” (John 6:4) If you happened to see a bright star in the sky in late December and noticed a caravan of camels with three kings walking down the street you would have to think there’s something Christmassy going on. But this rabble in the desert did not connect the dots with Passover.

Apparently, all they wanted was the free food.

He was ready to give them food that endures for eternal life but he was not willing to throw pearls to swine. That would benefit neither them nor him; rather, he must somehow break through their misguided expectations and show them what is truly happening.

This is the pattern through the Gospel of John, this divine determination to teach us how to see as God sees and love as God loves. After two thousand years the task is no easier; the challenge remains. As we contemplate the Eucharist we ask the Lord in all sincerity, “What are you trying to tell me? What am I not getting?”

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.