Jn. 6: 24:35
Paul encourages us today just as he encouraged the Ephesians to “not live in the futility of their minds’ but to “be renewed in the spirit of their minds.’ Paul is speaking about a radical transformation by allowing the Spirit to enlighten us in God’s way of righteousness. We as believers seek to understand and by understanding we will then be able to let go of all our attempts to please God by being obedient followers of all moral, church and logical laws.
The problem with that is we will only accept a faith that is understandable. Thus, we try to make all things of faith understandable. We will then wrestle with the concept of creation happening by God breathing the stars (Ps. 33:6) versus the big bang theory. Our gospel last week when Jesus multiplies the loaves and fish is a good example of our attempts to make sense of a miracle. Far too many times I have heard priests and religious describing this miracle happening by Jesus motivating the people listening to him that day to share their food with others.
So, by that belief we are being told the miracle is by the thousands present trusting that if they share their food with others there will be enough for them and those they choose to share with. It is no wonder the current polls on Catholic belief shows that 7 out of 10 Catholics do not believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. If we have authority figures rationalizing the miracles in the scriptures, how can we accept the miracle which happens each time we gather to celebrate the Eucharistic Liturgy.
Do not live in the futility of your minds is more than good advice. These are inspired words from God to us encouraging us to allow a new spiritual way of thinking into our hearts moving us to live the gospel rather than trying to make it fit our concept of reality.
The reality of the multiplication of the loaves is that there were thousands of people whom the disciples knew did not come prepared for they were there because they had needs. They had heard of Jesus, many of them had witnessed his miracles of healing and they wanted a miracle in their lives. That day he gave them something to eat and the next day he tells them they are not seeking him because they witnesses a sign but because they had eaten.
Then he tells them to seek food that endures for eternal life. Jesus is revealing for us the key to understand the most pressing questions we have about faith and life. Is what we are doing acceptable to God? Are we good enough to enter the kingdom of God at the end of our life? Am I on the right track? No matter how we phrase it, most of us are living our faith for the future reward instead of the current miracles of God at work in the world and in our lives.
Those present at the multiplication of loaves made the same mistake we make in our seeking Christ. They looked inward at what they lack instead of looking at what they had. They looked at their deficiency instead of taking Jesus at their word and giving what they had to feed others. It is just this kind of thinking that holds us back from seeing just how much God can do with the things we offer him.
We look at our finances and say we do not have enough for our own needs and therefore we do not see anyway to give to our parish. We will hear at this time of year the need for teachers in the PSR program for our children. I know when people hear that plea they think about their own lack of Catholic education and conclude they have nothing to offer.
It is not about what we do not have but it is about what we have and are either unwilling to see it as good enough or we take the harden attitude that God will provide without my help. This is the futility of thinking that Paul is talking about. We must allow our minds to be renewed by immersing ourselves in prayer, in the scriptures and in listening to the Spirit speaking to our hearts so we respond when Jesus says to us “feed them yourselves.”
I would love to tell you about ministries I have witnessed in parishes I have been blessed to serve because individuals believed God wanted them to do more. By them stepping up I have witnessed motivated people serving the elderly who need help to remain in their homes, of serving those who had loved ones in the hospital while still trying to cope with everyday needs of family at home. I have witnessed individuals serving the spiritual growth needs of all ages by forming small home groups.
If you listen, you will hear him telling you to give him what you have and all it takes is a desire to do God’s will to feed them ourselves. But we do not have time but if you see me or contact me I will be happy to share with you how those ministries brought many to believe in Jesus Christ.
Why am I not talking about the Eucharist when this gospel today is so clearly about the very concept of Jesus giving us himself as food. The answer to that question is because of what I hear during my own prayer time as I begin to prepare for a homily. We are so fond of speaking of how the Eucharist is food for the journey or how it transforms us. It does both of those things if we take the time to think about why we are seeking him. Are we like those who after the multiplication miracle seeking him because they knew only Jesus could provide them what they truly needed.
Is it all about our need? What are we expecting as we receive?
It is much more than us receiving and eating; it is also about us offering what we have before we eat his flesh and blood.
It is about believing if we support our parish financially God will bless our offering and make sure we have enough left over. It is about offering our worship as we join the community in prayer, in song and in unity of spirit offering God our spiritual worship knowing he will bless us with the freedom of forgiveness.
It is about offering him the entirety of our day knowing he will bless it and multiply the hours, so we miss nothing of the abundant life he promised us if we believe.
It is about believing in and trusting the promises of God and offering what little we have to be blessed and used by him.