[Slight break in posts not because I wasn’t joyful but because we’ve missed many Mondays in school so no Mondays, no sharings… but am back!]
Monday of the 3rd Week of Easter
Acts 6:8-15; Psalm 119:23-30; John 6:22-29
I love reading Whodunnits or mystery novels like those written by Agatha Christie or Ellis Peters. Why? I love the tension and slow unravelling of clues as the story unfolds. I love how some seemingly insignificant details become very important later in the book. A scrap of paper, an offhand remark, a little depression in the grass can be key in solving the mystery. All these things may catch attention but will not make sense till things fall together later. While reading these novels, I also love flipping back and forth (though never to the end first!) to make better sense of these small important insignificant details. That’s the beauty of reading novels with flippable pages. Things make more sense with the benefit of hindsight.
I think that’s how we should approach the readings of today – with the benefit of hindsight. We approach them with the sure knowledge of the resurrection that we celebrate during this season and know that the Gospel reading follows both the feeding of the 5000 and the episode where Jesus walks on water. We know of the miracles that impress the crowds yet don’t quite lead them to understanding. But we cannot be like those in the Gospel – we cannot remain without understanding as we’ve seen the light of the resurrection and as we flip backwards from the end of the Gospel of John to this point, this passage should not remain so much of a mystery. Instead, our hearts should burn with recognition and joy.
The people asked two questions: ‘Rabbi, when did you come here?’ and ‘What must we do if we are to do the works that God wants?’ It’s good to notice the curiosity with which they asked about something that was quite mundane. They saw the miracles and were very curious and sought more of the same. They wanted more food as well. They yeared just to be fed and entertained. Jesus saw through them in his response and he reminds us not to be the same as well. We should seek things that last and not mere earthly things. We know we should seek spiritual not material things but it’s hard isn’t it?
People would definitely be more attracted to signs that say ‘Free Food’ than ‘Eternal Life found Here’, especially in our modern, highly cynical world. We often get stuck in the our ordinary, day-to-day appreciation of things and forget about the fact that we should not always be worried about what to do but learn to live as trusting, faithful children of God. The people by the lake were chided because they didn’t get it but we, with the benefit of 2000 years of hindsight should. We’ve been able to flip back to this point to understand the significance of the multiplication of the loaves as the Lord’s ability to give us unlimited spiritual food yet we still yearn for material food? Didn’t the passion and resurrection teach us anything?
The other question the Lord asked is about our response to him. They asked what we need to do. We’re good at doing things and mostly want to do more. The Lord’s response was not what to do but how to be – to believe in him and that would solve everything. We’re often told to do things – teachers tel us to learn and remember, philosophers to think and know, leaders to work and solve problems. The Lord tells us to believe in him – not just plain belief in something but to believe in him, to feel the truth that he speaks of and to know it from the depth of our being. That’s what total commitment to the Lord is all about.
And that’s what St Stephen showed in his ability to answer everything thrown at him. His authority in speaking came from his belief in the Lord. His ability to meet the questions and accusations of the religious leaders unfazed showed that he knew where his answers were coming from and believed totally in them. How did he do this? I believe this came from his faith in the resurrection and from a real knowledge of what it means to believe in God who died and rose from the dead to save us.
Thus, we shouldn’t be like the people asking the Lord about what we should do. We’ve seen the mystery unfold in history, in the Word of God. We know what happens so why don’t we believe in it? We may not know what is to come but we should be able to trust in the Lord’s willingness and ability to guide us to where we are to be. After all, scripture unfolds in our lives as well. So let’s learn to flip the pages back, to see the significance of the Lord’s actions for what they are – clues on how to be and how to believe in him.
I end with this adaptation of the concluding prayer of Lauds today.
God and Father, you reveal the light of your truth to all
so that we may believe in you and be with you.
Grant that all who have received the grace of baptism
may not be distracted by material things
and strive towards the call to faith. Amen.