Year B: 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Gospel: John 6: 24-35
After feeding the five thousand, Jesus and his disciples had left by boat. Inevitably, when the crowds saw that Jesus and the disciples had gone, they set out to find them. When Jesus sees them, he realises that they have not understood what has happened and, in the main, just want to be with someone who will provide free bread for them.
The people ask for a sign - saying that Moses gave the people of his day a sign in the manna from heaven. Jesus reminds them just who it was who gave them the manna - his Father. God provided manna - and continues to provide bread - but that is only a hint of how God will provide for his people.
As the woman at the well asked for the water that never ran dry, so the people ask for the bread that brings life to the world. And Jesus reveals himself to be that bread with the promise that those who come to him will not hunger - those who believe will not thirst.
The words are words of promise - but they are also words which challenge. People were attracted to Jesus by the gift of bread to feed their bodies. That attraction caused them to seek and find him - expecting more of the same. Instead, Jesus offers something bigger - less easy to grasp - but something which will, in the end be infinitely more satisfying.
This process mirrors that of most followers of Jesus even up to our own time. There is an attraction - perhaps watching a Nativity or Passion Play - or hearing one of his parables - or one of his sayings that seems to speak to the searcherís condition. The attraction may lead them to look for more of the same - more comforting sayings - more though-provoking stories. For some, that is enough - but Jesus does not always allow people to stay there. At some point, people may be brought face to face with a challenge - and have to decide whether they are prepared to go more deeply into the Mystery... The choice is theirs.
Over the next few weeks, we will see how the people try to work through this teaching - and how, in the end, people address two questions which Jesus will pose... The questions were posed two thousand years ago - but are as relevant for would-be disciples now as they were then.
What does it mean for me?
© 2006 Wellspring