August 1, 2021; John 6:24-35; 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time
It’s important for us to notice in today’s gospel that Jesus does not give the crowd what they want. He gives them more.
When Jesus leaves the deserted place, in which he fed the five thousand, he returns to the city of Capernaum. The crown follows him because they are hungry. They want more bread. Jesus knows their motivation. He says in the gospel, “You are looking for me . . . because you ate the loaves and were filled.” The crowd comes to Jesus because of physical hunger. But he does not multiply the loaves and the fishes again. He does something better. The crowd comes to him for physical food, and he provides them with spiritual food. They come asking for bread that will perish, and he gives them bread that will endure to eternal life.
Now, Jesus deals in the same way with us, as he dealt with the crowd. Throughout our life, we ask him for many things. He routinely gives us more. You might be debating what you want to do with your life, what career you should choose. So you ask Jesus for guidance. After research and many conversations, you enter a well-known engineering school. It seems the right choice. In your second year, you notice another student who always says hello and smiles at you. You start a conversation, go out to dinner, and become friends. When you graduate, the two of you marry. You had asked Jesus for help in your career, and he uses that opportunity to give you a spouse with whom you can build a family and a future.
There is a colleague at work who irritates you and has hurt you many times with cruel remarks. Working with this person is difficult and painful. So, you ask Jesus to help you heal that relationship. An opportunity presents itself, and the two of you talk at some length and clear the air. The relationship improves. But during that conversation, you notice something new about yourself. You notice that you have been insecure and angry for a long time. Upon reflection, you trace those qualities to a hurtful relationship with your father. You had asked Jesus to help you with a colleague, and he showed you a long-standing hurt that is crippling your life. You know that addressing that hurt will set you free.
You’re preparing for open-heart surgery, and you are afraid of the pain and whether the surgery will be successful or not. You turn to Jesus and ask him to help you with your fear. As the news of the surgery gets out, people you know begin to offer support. Your friends say that they will bring you meals during recovery and walk your dog. The teenage boy down the street knocks on your door and says he will cut your lawn. You are overwhelmed with peoples’ kindness. You had asked Jesus to help you with your fear, and he used that opportunity to show you how much you are loved.
Jesus’s care for us routinely exceeds our expectations. When we ask for help, he gives us more. When we ask for bread, he gives us life. When we turn to him in our need, he finds a way of offering us himself.