“And when they found him across the sea they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” Jesus answered them and said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled.” John 6: 25 – 26
Why do we seek Jesus? Why do we go looking after him when he seems to disappear? What is it that we really and truly want from Jesus in our lives? These are the questions that Jesus is asking those who come looking for him the next day after he fed the 5,000 at Bethsaida in Galilee. Very soon after the crowd had eaten their fill of the bread given them by Jesus, they began making plans to make him king. (John 6:15) Jesus quickly withdrew up the mountain by himself while his disciples crossed the sea by night to Capernaum. The crowd was left wondering where Jesus could have gone.
The next day, some of the people caught up with Jesus in Capernaum. This is when they asked Jesus the question, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” Jesus never answered their question, but he questioned their motivation, they were looking for him because he had fed them and not because he was their “Rabbi” or the Messiah or the Son of God. Then Jesus leads them to a very important spiritual quest: to follow him, not primarily because he is able to satisfy their human needs but to believe that he is the One sent by God to be their Lord and Savior.
He tells them to work for food that does not perish, but for food that endures for eternal life. Some begin to believe. They say, “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” They recognize that this effort to work for food that endures for eternal life is a work of God. These people were very familiar with the Book of Genesis, and the “work of God” in the seven days of creation, and then resting after the seventh day. Working for God would not be an easy calling!
So, why do we go looking for Jesus? Are we after the bread of daily life, the cures of our many personal illnesses or those of our dear family members and friends? Are we looking for Jesus because we want to live a comfortable life with no personal or familial sufferings or challenges? Or are we looking for Jesus so that we can accomplish the works of God? Jesus himself tells us what the most important work of God is: “that you believe in the one he sent.” (John 6:29)
Believing that Jesus is the Son of God is hard work! Believing in the teaching of Jesus is hard work! Following Jesus to the Cross is hard work! Living the life of the Resurrected Jesus is hard work! But because it is a work of God, it is not all up to us.
Jesus himself has fed us with the Bread of Heaven. He strengthens us with his Word. He accompanies us in our journey. He intervenes when we try to walk away. We are not alone. What echoes in our minds and hearts is Jesus’ last words to us, “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Mathew 28:20) Alleluia!
Fr. Clemente Barrón, C.P. is a member of Mater Dolorosa Community in Sierra Madre, California.