In today’s Gospel, Jesus is asked: "What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do?’ The crowd was saying, give us some proof! Frequently our prayer sounds like that. I believe in you, Jesus, but I’ll really and truly believe if you just help me with this one thing, just cure this one illness, solve this one problem.
How often do we hear (or say) "God was with me when I avoided that accident, got a good grade in school, recovered from an illness. But Jesus tells us that God is with us all the time. It is when we can know God’s presence in the bad times, the suffering, in life’s problems, in all things, that we can comprehend the meaning of the last verse of this reading.
Jesus promises us that if we believe in him we will never hunger and never thirst. He was talking about hungering and thirsting for oneness with God, for spirituality, for the Kingdom. Many people today suffer from this hunger. They are looking for healing, for something to hold things together, for an explanation for the universe. They are looking for God. Frequently they are looking in the wrong places. Jesus tells us He is the bread of life. Jesus is the bread the Father gave us and in Jesus, we are fed. If we believe in Christ and follow His path, we will have our spiritual hunger fed. Jesus’ way is outlined clearly for us in the Beatitudes, the works of mercy and in the commandment Jesus has given us to love God and love your neighbor as yourself.
If we can be as certain as Jesus was of God’s existence and of God’s love and goodness, we will begin to experience oneness with God and we will do God’s work. Then we will no longer hunger for the Kingdom, we will, with Jesus, be living it.
Mary Lou Butler is a former staff member and is now a member of the Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center Board, Sierra Madre, California.