Transcribed by Joel V. Ocampo
The initial scene of the Gospel in today’s liturgy, shows us some boats moving towards Capernaum. The crowd is going to look for Jesus. We might think that this is a very good thing. Yet the Gospel teaches us that it is not enough to seek God. We must also ask why we are seeking Him. Indeed, Jesus says, “You seek me not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves” (Jn. 6:26). People in fact have witnessed the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves, but they do not grasp the meaning of that gesture. They stopped at the external miracle and material bread. Just there, without going beyond the meaning of all that.
Here then is the first question we can ask ourselves, “Why do we seek the Lord? What are the motivations for our faith?” We need to discern this. Because among the many temptations, there is one that we might call “idolatrous temptation.” It’s the one that drives us to seek God for our own use, to solve our problems, to have thanks to Him what we cannot obtain on our own.
In this way, faith remains superficial, and the faith remains a sort of miraculous type of faith: we seek God to feed us and then forget about Him when we are full. At the center of this immature faith is not God but our own needs, our own interest, and many different things. It is right to present our needs to God’s heart, but the Lord who acts far beyond our expectations, wishes is to live with us, first of all in a relationship of love; and true love is disinterested, it is free. One does not love to receive a favor in return. It is not a question of interest.
The second question that the crowd asked Jesus can help us. “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” (Jn. 6:28). As if the people, provoked by Jesus were asking, “How can we purify our search for God? How do we go from a magical faith which thinks only of our own needs to faith that pleases God?”, and Jesus shows the way. He answers that “The work of God is to welcome the One whom the Father has sent” (Jn. 6:28). That is Himself, Jesus. It’s not adding religious practices or observing special precepts, it’s welcoming Jesus. Welcoming Him into our lives, living a story of love with Him. It is He who will purify our faith. We’re not able to do this on our own.
The Lord wants a loving relationship with us. Before the things we receive and do, there is Him to love. There is a relationship with Him that goes beyond the logic of interest and calculations. This applies to God, but also to our human and social relationships, whom He seeks first and foremost the satisfaction of our needs.
We risk using people and exploiting situations for our own hands. Sometimes we hear about people who might be using other people. Using people for your own needs or wants is not good. The society that sets interest instead of people at its center is a society that does not generate life. The Gospel’s invitation is this: rather than being concerned only with the material bread that feeds us, let us welcome Jesus as the Bread of Life. Starting out from our friendship with Him, learn to love each other, freely and without calculation, without using others. Freely, with generosity, with magnanimity.
Let us now pray to the Blessed Virgin Mary who lived the most beautiful story of love with God. That she may give us the grace to open ourselves to the encounter with her Son.