Peace to you!
Over the past couple of weekends we have revisited the importance of prayer in our lives and reflected upon a few of the ways that giving and sharing what we have enriches our lives in amazing ways. Last weekend Jesus taught the people about God and then fed the multitude with a few loaves and a couple of fish as a sign of God’s generous providence and care toward the people he created and dearly loves.
This weekend we pick up the story after the multitude has been taught and fed. Some of the people go in search of Jesus because they want more bread and fish. Jesus notes that though they had seen the sign, it didn’t lead them to faith in him. Their only interest was the tangible thing. Jesus instructs them to have faith in what he has taught them and put those teachings to use in their lives. In response to Jesus’ instructions, they ask for another sign—more bread. Since all they can think of is bread, Jesus uses bread as an allegory to teach them a higher principle: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and who believes in me will never thirst.” You wonder if they “got it” after that.
In the past, I’ve encountered some things that remind me of what is taking place in the Gospel story. One event was on a fishing trip when our boat came in to the dock and we had people filet our tuna for us. The couple who were cutting the fish found out that I was a priest and they asked me to do them a favor: send all the people to go fishing on Sunday so that they could make more money. I smiled at their faith in my ability to provide them a means to more money, but was saddened at their lack of understanding that we NEED God’s word, its light and power, we need God more than money. Another couple I spoke to was concerned about the economy and their retirement. They decided to stop going to Mass on Sunday and keep their little restaurant open 7 days a week. I noted that they weren’t open in the morning when Mass takes place but they insisted that they needed to prepare for the day’s work. Over a period of time I continued to stop in and see them and I noticed their fatigue and that family affairs were becoming more burdensome and the business profit margin was slowly declining like their own health. I wondered if they ever “got it” .
Jesus tells us not to work for what perishes—things of the world– but for what endures for eternal life. Jesus also said that no one lives on bread alone but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
God established Sunday as a day of rest, nourishment and trust in his loving providence. On Sunday, we come to give thanks for our blessings, ask for help with our needs and we are inspired with faith because we know he keeps his promises to not only provide, but also to bless us with joy and peace as well! Got it? Blessings to you! +++ Fr. Peter