How often are we like the crowd……….

by May Tam
Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

EXODUS 24:3-8

Ephesians 4:17, 20-24

John 6:24-35

Today’s Gospel reading is an intriguing pericope which built on the incongruous dialogue between Jesus and the crowd. In directing their questions to more important issues, Jesus’ convoluted responses are also directing us today.

How often like the crowd, we approach Faith with inappropriate questions. Jesus ignored the crowd’s query about His means of transportation and bluntly pointed out the core of their problem----they were seeking Him for the wrong reason. Are we the same too? Are we looking for Jesus because we believe in Him or simply to get what we want from Him?

In addition to the wrong reason, the crowd focused on the “wrong bread”----bread that only satisfied temporarily and perished. In our materialistic world, we too may easily misplace our attention on only tangible things and neglect our spiritual needs. Does the saying that "man does not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Deut 8:3; Mt 4:4) still hold true in our hearts?

The crowd was wrong again when they misinterpreted Jesus’ words about “work” (v 27). They thought they could “work” the work of God to gain for themselves eternal life. In our present culture which advocates self reliance and self worth, we are too tempted to think likewise, not realizing that this is exactly the reason why Jesus came---to do what we cannot do for ourselves----to save us from sin and death.

Forgetting the sign that Jesus just did in feeding the multitude, they wanted a repeated sign of the old days, a sign they preferred. Does this sound familiar? Many times we overlook God’s signs that are happening before us, but instead, we prescribe the condition for God before we believe Him.

The Samaritan woman (Jn 4:15) asked Jesus for the living water and the crowd asked for the “wonder” bread. But anyone who understands properly Jesus’ words will have prompted faith instead of just eagerly obtaining the “free gift” as immediate solution. We too are often tempted to obtain what we want in an easy way. The “free gift” from God is Jesus Himself who, “satisfying the desire of every living thing” (Psalm 145:16), is truly the bread from heaven----the Bread of Life. To obtain this “free gift” requires us to open our eyes to see, our ears to hear and our hearts to receive.