Seeking the created not the creator – 18th Sunday in ordinary time – John 6:24-35
Today’s Gospel is a continuation, if you please, of last Sunday’s Gospel text. To refresh your memory, last Sunday’s we heard of the multiplication of the fish and the loaves. At the end of the sign (Remember that the Gospel of St John does not have ‘miracles’ but signs) Jesus left the place as he realized that the people, whose bellies were full wanted to take him and make him king by force.
For the crowds, the sign they experienced was about having a belly full of food they failed to see that the real sign was Jesus. Even though the crowd acclaimed Jesus as prophet and sought to make him king (John 6:14-15), they seem not to have really understood the significance of what happened in the feeding miracle (John 6:1-14). Last Sunday they called him a prophet even though it was clear he was the long-awaited Messiah. The simply chose to see what they wanted.
That brings me to my first reflection. Who is Jesus to me? The correct answer is my Lord and saviour. Any other expression is secondary. There are many who in order to sound secular and popular treat Jesus as ‘a god’ or ‘one of the gods’. Jesus is GOD, the only begotten son of the father. This must be our confession of faith no matter what. We cannot choose to see Jesus the way we wish to in order to sound secular or socially acceptable.
The Gospel now tells us that Jesus heads to Capernaum, his de facto headquarters in Galilee and is quickly followed by the same crowds. At first Jesus confronts them. “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves” (John 6:26), I do not think Jesus was scolding the crowd for seeking bread because they were hungry. I think Jesus was disappointed that the crowd did not expect more, not more bread but something more. Sadly, because they found a source for food, they were not looking for Jesus, they are looking the man who could keep feeding them.
One would have also thought that the multiplication of the fish and loaves would be a sign enough for them to realize that Jesus is the Messiah. Like us too, who have experienced the Lord, the crowds have many questions as they have doubts. When did you come here? (vs 25). What must we do to perform the works of God?(vs28) What sign will you give us? What work are you preforming? (vs30). Jesus refuses to answer the question which they have asked, but instead redirects the conversation to more important issues. Because they have focused on the wrong “bread,” Jesus redirects them toward the bread which “endures.” Then they ask Jesus to perform a sign like Moses did when God provided the Israelites with a miraculous food in the desert. It seems strange for them to say this, since Jesus has just performed a sign like the one they require.
Jesus does not give up on these disbelieving crowds. The crowd wants to know something, and Jesus answers with a different kind of information. He seizes the opportunity once again to teach. Jesus uses the bread that filled their stomachs to become the primary extended metaphor in order to stretch their understanding.
This brings my to my second reflection. We have a God who never tires of us, never tires of the questions we have and of how often we question him. We have a God who bears our iniquity and carries our sorrow. The question is, how long will we try his patience?
Finally, in today’s Gospel Jesus responds to us as he did the crowd: “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom God has sent” (John 6:29). To believe is to trust that God is doing something new; that human-created conditions and circumstances cannot undermine or negate. To believe is to submit everything, even our highest-stake issues, to God’s saving work in Jesus. To believe is not so much what we do as being open to what God is doing.
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