The next day the crowd that had stayed on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there. They also saw that Jesus had not got into the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. Then some boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus.
When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered 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. Do not work for the 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.”
Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
Jesus’ challenge to the crowd following him around is just as pertinent for us today. They liked listening to him, but they liked getting fed as well.
Thousands of years ago, the Roman emperors learned that they could control the people in the cities by providing “bread and circuses.” Our basest instincts are that we want to be fed and entertained. The challenge from Jesus is not to look for those things from him. He wants those people and us to believe in him, which means that he wants them and us to do what he does, and to love who he loves. He is not interested in doing tricks for them even though that seems to be what they want.
A challenge from today’s Gospel is a twist on JFK’s inauguration speech. Ask not what God can do for you, but what you can do for God.
What will you do for God—for the world—today?
Lord, when times are easy, it’s easy to have faith. Suddenly that which seemed absurd now makes sense. Everything fits together. We have clarity how you have worked through the tough times of our life.
Yet when thrown into the middle of hardship, we can forget your faithfulness and feel overwhelmed. Lord, we ask for a deeper faith that is steadfast regardless of our circumstances.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team