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Searching for Jesus
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 Jesus, open the Scriptures to me as I turn my heart to you. I need your resurrected power and life. Just as you opened the Scriptures to the disciples on the way to Emmaus, open the Gospel to me and reveal your heart. Make my heart burn while you speak to me.
- Looking for Jesus: The Gospel does something unique and strange here. There is a detailed accounting of how the people seeking Jesus tracked him down. The Gospel explains that the disciples and Jesus didn’t leave together. It also points out that Jesus was not where some had expected to find them. They were obviously intent on looking for Jesus after seeing his miraculous feeding of the crowds. We also seek Jesus. Do we search for him with the same ardor and dedication as these townsfolk did? He is definitely worth searching for, and he applauds you for desiring him. Yet, he doesn’t always make it easy to find him.
- Playing Hard to Get: This miracle worker was amazing, and the hungry Galileans wanted more. Once they finally found him, they tried to engage him with a question about when he arrived. Jesus didn’t answer their question because it wasn’t their real question. Jesus is good at answering the real questions behind our questions. They were really asking, “Why couldn’t we find you? Why are you making it hard to find you so we can get satisfied again? Why won’t you make this easy on us?” Jesus told them why they pursued him, but they didn’t want to find the meaning behind the sign. They wanted more bread. Jesus allowed them to struggle to find him so as to purify their intentions and ask themselves, “Why am I really following this Jesus?” He wanted them to seek the one the signs pointed to—to love and listen to him because of the truth he proclaimed and the Father he revealed, not for the way he satisfied their hunger. Why do you follow Jesus?
- The Real Work: Having been so challenged by Jesus, their hearts were now open. When Jesus told them what not to work for, they asked him what they should be working for. They trusted him. They asked him to answer the question he posed to them. “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” He told them, and he tells us, that we are called to pursue Jesus himself, not the miracles he provides. All the signs and miracles are nothing more than a way to open our hearts to believe in the divinity of Jesus. The real work isn’t about doing, but believing. And out of that faith, amazing actions flow!
Conversing with Christ: Lord, purify my heart and help me to seek you for all the right reasons—for your truth, your love, yourself. I reject any purely utilitarian love for you. Rather, I love you because you are the truth, you are the way, you are the life. I believe in you—help my unbelief! Amen.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will seek you actively for all the right reasons. I will set some reminders (e.g., post-it notes, the sight of a religious image, an alarm on my phone) that will draw my heart back to you, and then I will renew my faith in you.
For Further Reflection: The signs worked by Jesus attest that the Father has sent him. They invite belief in him. To those who turn to him in faith, he grants what they ask. So miracles strengthen faith in the One who does his Father’s works; they bear witness that he is the Son of God. But his miracles can also be occasions for “offense”; they are not intended to satisfy people’s curiosity or desire for magic. Despite his evident miracles some people reject Jesus; he is even accused of acting by the power of demons (Catechism of the Catholic Church 548).
Fr. Mark Haydu, LC, is a priest living in Rye, New York. He currently serves as the local New York Chaplain for the Lumen Institute where he offers spiritual coaching to business leaders seeking to integrate faith, character, and leadership: www.lumeninstitute.org. He hails from Akron, Ohio.