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From the Stomach to the Heart
Monday of the Third Week of Easter
The next day, the crowd that remained across the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not gone along with his disciples in the boat, but only his disciples had left. Other boats came from Tiberias near the place where they had eaten the bread when the Lord gave thanks. When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into boats and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus. 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. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.” So they said to him, “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, all praise and honor we rightly offer you! We genuinely look for you but we sometimes find ourselves searching and hungry for bread that perishes. Forgive us, Lord! Please, show us that you are the living bread we desire.
- Hunger of the Heart: Jesus used food as a “hook” to capture the attention of the crowd when he multiplied the loaves and fish. While we do not multiply bread or fish to feed people, we can imitate Jesus by using everyday events to invite people to discover and grow in a relationship with God. Each day we have opportunities to cast a “ hook” into the stream of people’s lives to share the love of Jesus with them. Our words, as well as our actions, can lift their minds, at least momentarily, to “things that are above,” bringing them into contact with their greatest good, Our Lord (Colossians 3:2).
- Temporal versus Eternal: Many people sought Jesus because they wanted physical food or healing. Jesus challenged them saying, “Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life.” We, too, can become earthbound, distracted by our temporal world of work and home, and unaware of the connectedness of the temporal and eternal realms when, in fact, everything we possess, any talent we have received, belongs to the Lord, and should rightly be used to reach out to share Jesus with others, either directly or indirectly. We are invited today, in this Gospel, to sit with these thoughts and ask ourselves, “How am I living each day with an eye on eternity, and sharing my perspective with those I’m called to reach?”
- The Work of God: “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.” A quick peek into a thesaurus reveals words that may intensify what Jesus means when he says “believe”—words like faith, trust, confidence, certainty, acceptance, reliance, conviction, and hope. Do these words reflect the depth of our belief and commitment to Jesus? We don’t earn faith–it’s a gift from God–but we do need to open our hearts, empty them of superfluous concerns, pray for faith, and be ready to receive the answer to our prayer.
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, I do believe, help my unbelief! Abba, grow my heart’s longing for you today as I pray over the ways I hunger for you, the ways I keep my gaze fixed on eternity, and the ways I “do the work of God.” Thank you, Lord, for this time of prayer. Increase my belief in the one you sent so that I might become a fisher of men.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I ask you to give me opportunities to build the kingdom by my words and actions and become an instrument in the evangelization of others.
For Further Reflection: Prayerful reading of the Creed: http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/index.cfm.
Read and meditate about faith in the Catechism of the Catholic Church 1814-1816: http://ccc.usccb.org/flipbooks/catechism/files/assets/basic-html/page-446.html.
Written by Janice Neyer