18TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME - B
Why do we seek God? When we pray, what do we ask him? Do we see God as a superhero who can solve all our problems and who can give an end to our misery?
The people, after witnessing the multiplication of the loaves and fish, had their fill and wanted to make Jesus a king so he withdrew to the mountain on the other side of the lake.
The people saw in Jesus an economic messiah, a saviour who would give an end to their economic tragedy and sure food on their tables. They never understood the sign (miracle) that Jesus performed because they were preoccupied with their pragmatic and parasitic motives. Jesus aware of their selfishness told them to look for the food that endures to eternal life. The Jews thought that by their obedience to the law would deserve such food so they asked “What should we do to carry out God’s work?” “Believe in the one whom he sent” Jesus replied. Then the Jews asked for a sign like the manna in the desert that was given by Moses. Jesus reminded them that it was not Moses who gave their forefathers the manna but rather his Father who will also give them the bread from heaven. Then the Jews asked “Sir, give us that bread always.” Jesus said “I am the bread of life….”
Like the Jews, sometimes we see God as a “problem solver”, somebody who after we have done something good would be obliged to give us what we want. This is true to those who say their rosaries, novenas, attend masses and go to pilgrimages because they want to ask God something. Prayer of petition is never wrong and is highly encouraged because Jesus said “Ask and it will be given unto you….” But if we think that God is obliged to give us what we want because we deserve it after doing something for him, we are no different from the Jews at the time of Jesus.
When we go to church it is good to ask ourselves: “Why am I here?” Probably many of us will say our litany of petitions: because I want you Lord to help me find a job, find me a wife/husband, heal my friend who is suffering from cancer, inspire my spouse to stop nagging me, help me pass this job interview, help me pass this exams, etc. There is nothing wrong to bring to God all these concerns. But we follow Jesus not only because we want him to bring an immediate end to our misery but simply to be with him because he is the eternal reason of our existence. God never forgets our struggles, pains, sufferings and life’s tragedies. If we believe him as our personal Saviour and Lord, all these will be provided for.
We go to a restaurant to fill in our hungry stomach; we need to eat in order to survive! The reason why we come to church and gather for the Eucharist is because we are hungry spiritually and only God can satiate that hunger. It takes a leap of faith to see that the bread and wine we offer on the altar are transformed into the Body and Blood of Jesus! They are not symbolic as what Protestants believe! The Eucharist for us is Jesus in all his fullness! What we eat is more wonderful than the manna of the Jews in the desert! We eat the food of the Angels!