Homily (Reflection) for the Eighteenth Sunday of the Year (B) (05th August, 2018) on the GospelEx 16:2-4;
Ps 77:3-4.23-25.54 (R. V. 24);
In Father Gerard Fuller’s work, we read: “A farmer brought a load of wheat to the elevator in a nearby town. He stopped at a restaurant and sat down near a group of young fellows who were acting up, shouting at the cook, and heckling the waitress. When his meal was set before him, the old gentleman bowed his head to offer a prayer. One of the smart-alecks thought he would have some fun with the farmer, so he shouted: Hey, Pop, does everyone do that where you come from?” Calmly the old man turned toward the lad and in an equally loud voice replied: “No, son, the pigs don’t” (Fuller, G. (2010). Stories for all seasons. Mumbai: St Pauls, pp. 87-88).
Topic: Looking for Jesus?
After feeding the large crowd in last Sunday’s gospel (Jn 6:1-15) with five loaves and two fishes, Jesus and His disciples crossed the sea to Capernaum. And in today’s gospel, we see that same crowd got into “boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus” (Jn 6:24).
Bearing in mind that every miracle is for us to believe, (cf. Jn 10:25.38; Matt 11:20-24) one would think that they were looking for Jesus because they had seen the mighty works and believed in Him. However, Jesus who knows the thoughts of man (cf. Ps 94:11) said to them in reply: “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves” (Jn 6:26). By implication, they were looking for more loaves and not for Jesus.
Although they had been fed with just five loaves and two fishes, yet they demanded for sign which according to them would made them believe. Jesus is God’s sign to the world (cf. 1Jn 4:10). During the presentation of Jesus in the temple the blessed Simeon prophesied, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed ...” (Lk 2:34-35). Hence, when the crowd requested for a sign Jesus offered them Himself as a sign in these words: “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (Jn 6:34).
Jesus’ vital advice to the crowd and us as well is “Do not work for food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal” (Jn 6:27). This advice is important today more than ever because the crazy quest for signs and wonders has eaten too deep into both the hierarchy and the laity. Many look today “after their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ” (Phil 2:21). Most of the things we pursue today do not gear towards our salvation. There is urgent need for all of us – the laity and the clergy to “... seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well” (Matt 6:33). It is no longer news that some Christians not excluding the clergy have sought evil powers for miracles. We are rightly cautioned, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1Jn 4:1). Saint Paul explained further,
The coming of the lawless one is apparent in the working of Satan, who uses all power, signs, lying wonders, and every kind of wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion, leading them to believe what is false, so that all who have not believed the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness will be condemned (2Thess 2:9-12).
In the words of the prophet, “Every one deceives his neighbour, and no one speaks the truth; they have taught their tongue to speak lies; they commit iniquity and are too weary to repent” (Jer 9:5). The prophesy of Saint Paul is fulfilled, “...the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings” (2Tim 4:3).
In our introductory story, the farmer rightly told the young fellow who wanted to have some fun with him: “No, son, the pigs don’t” pray to God. And as humans, we ought to look for God and not just for what we want.
Bible Reading: Lk 2:22-38; 1Cor 1:18-31; 1Jn 2:1-6; Col 1:15-23.
Thought for today: Why are you in this church – for Jesus or for something else?
Let us pray: God give us the grace to search for you and you alone – Amen.
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