Acts 6:8-15; Psalm 119; John 6:22-29
The Gospel Reading today tells us that after the feeding of the crowd with five loaves of bread, Jesus crossed to the other side and the crowd also crossed and searched for him. Jesus tells them you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Immediately, Jesus saw through their intent. They searched for Jesus not because they believe in him but because he fed them with bread. They wanted Jesus to continue to feed them with bread. They had their own idea of Jesus that they now restrict him to feeding them. Jesus warns them not to work for food that will perish but for food what lasts which the Son of Man will give them.
Jesus tells them life is more than just material things AND Jesus is more than a provider of bread. He gives them food that lasts. They ask: what must we do to perform the works of God? Now they are curious and ask Jesus how they can work for that food. Jesus replied: this is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent. With this Jesus tells them, the food he gives is a gift and is not obtained through work. We do God’s work when we believe in him whom he has sent. The food Jesus gives is not achieved through works, but it is achieved by believing in him.
Many today think they can work for their salvation. They think they can “buy” their way to salvation by doing “charitable” works or being nice to people. This is a heresy the Catholic Church condemned a few centuries after Jesus ascended to heaven: that we can gain salvation through good works. The truth is we are saved by the grace of God through Jesus Christ. Salvation is a free gift we get by believing in Jesus Christ. What is this belief? It is more than believing in God because demons believe in God. It is more than believing Jesus is risen because the soldiers at the tomb and even the chief priests knew Jesus rose from the dead. It is more than just professing Jesus Christ as Lord because many people do evil things in the name of Jesus as their Lord.
Believing in Jesus is surrendering our lives to Jesus. It is standing for the Truth, at the expense of ourselves. Stephen proves this in the First Reading where he did great wonders and signs among the people. His good works prove his faith as he spoke with wisdom and the Spirit. It is what the Psalm says today: even though princes sit plotting against me, your servant will meditate on your statutes. We hold on to the Word of God despite threats to our lives. It is to ask God to teach us his laws, to make us understand his Word and his works. It is to put false ways far from us. This is how it is to believe in Jesus.
The sad thing is when disaster strikes, like this pandemic, many pray to God. And when this is forgotten, they lose their interest in God. If this is our attitude towards God, we are no different from the crowd who searched for Jesus because he fed them. God is not a waiter that we call when we need, and ignore when we do not need him. When we do this, we prevent God from doing great things in our lives. This is what the Resurrection is all about. It tells us to see Jesus from a different perspective. The Resurrection is a call to allow Jesus to reveal himself as we get rid of our ideas of him. God wants us to live with him for eternity. This is possible only when we accept him as he is, whatever the cost to us.
As we will see in tomorrow’s First Reading, there is a cost to following God. It is not easy to believe in Jesus. But when we trust him, we can exclaim like Mary The Lord has done great things for me, holy is his name!
Lord, here I am. I want to believe in you, but I find it difficult. Give me wisdom, courage and will to trust you. In the midst of my sufferings, let me remember you are the only One who can help me. Let me not trust in my own strength, in my abilities, in my intelligence. Instead, let me do God’s work: to believe in you, to trust you, to let you take charge of my life, to let you rule and do as you wish in my life, so that you can do great things for me.