Another late blog article. I didn’t realize how writing could be so tough. It’s odd because I usually have so much on my mind, and I can also talk about anything for a very long time. But converting my thoughts and my words into something written, that’s another obstacle. This blog article is a little bit late, but it is based on a reflection of the Gospel reading from John 6:22-27.
22 On the following day, when the people who were standing on the other side of the sea saw that there was no other boat there, except that one which His disciples had entered, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with His disciples, but His disciples had gone away alone— 23 however, other boats came from Tiberias, near the place where they ate bread after the Lord had given thanks—24 when the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they also got into boats and came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. 25 And when they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, “Rabbi, when did You come here?” 26 Jesus answered them and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. 27 Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.” (NKJV, John 6:22-27)
There are many times in my life that I try to push myself to reflect on my actions. My personal goal is to try to do a daily reflection, some days it is easy to remember to do this, other times, I need a digital reminder to do this whether through the use of Evernote or Omnifocus. Two pieces of software that keep me organized and productive (more on that in another post later on). I try to ask myself some basic standard questions.
What did I do today?
What did I accomplish?
What new thing did I learn?
The next question that is the most difficult sometimes for me to answer at times, is Did I Chase After Him today, or Did I Chase After What He Can Give Me?
We all fall into this trap a lot, I myself fall into it many times. We all fall in the trap of asking God, praying to God, for the things that I want from Him.
Dear God…..please I want that new job.
………………please I want that new house.
………………please I need to pass this class.
………………please I want this person to notice me.
………………please I want, I want, i want.
I always want from God, I want, because I know that He can give it to me, He has the power to give it to me. Growing up and looking back at my life, I can see and visualize myself always asking God for the things I want. I remember asking for the job, I remember asking for the good grades and all the things that a typical high school or college student would ask, perhaps even a young adult. But one of the things that scares me, when I look back at my past, I can’t remember the times that I chased after Him myself without wanting anything in return.
Because when I look back at the past, I can see why I asked for certain things. Struggling with a class, so I needed a good grade to pass. Unemployed, and needed a job. The list can go on for this. But I can’t remember, my memory fades here…
Did I pray and say thank you when God granted my requests?
Did I just pray in general without asking for anything?
It’s very tough to remember those details for some reason of our past. Today of course is different, I am older, I am wiser (I hope). But I am still human. I needed to be reminded on a regular basis, so that I don’t fall into that trap again.
To bring it back full circle to the Gospel reading at the beginning of this blog. Many times we say, I can’t relate to the Bible, it was written a long time ago, by old people. But everything is relatable, if you want to learn and read it, that’s the key step. It’s a journey.
The passage in the gospel reading picks up immediately right after the miracle of Feeding of the Five Thousand with the five loaves and two fish.
To summarize the above passage reading here is a very simple outline.
- Imagine that you are a part of this group. (the five thousand)
- You just got fed in a miraculous way. Five loaves, Two fish. Twelve baskets filled afterwards! (What a buffet!)
- Christ ends up in Capernaum somehow (I use the term “somehow” loosely based on how I envision it, if I was there, based on the factual points of 4-7)
- We know that Saint John indicates only 1 boat (the disciples were on it) left and our Lord Jesus Christ, didn’t go with them on the boat.
- Other people are trying to find Him, other boats coming in from Tiberius.
- Finally, this group that you are in get to Capernaum and you’re chasing Him.
- You and the group finally see Christ.
You know what happens? The first words out of the mouth of the group….”When did you get here?”. That reminds of the English modern version that I would use with my friends at a restaurant. “Bro, how in the world did you get here so fast? I didn’t see you on the boat. I looked and I checked, you weren’t there, so uh, when did you get here?”
Can you imagine that mentality? “When did you get here?” Seriously. That’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you see Him? Let’s hold on to this mentality for a bit, as we go deeper into this.
Christ responds to that “group” mentality. In verse 26, Jesus answered them and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.
That is rough! But the TRUTH! It’s like a passive slap on the face. Again, in our “modern” English understanding if this were to happen today with family or friends.
“Guys, you’re not following because you saw the miracle, but because you saw the abundance of food, you’re here because I fed you.”
I often think, how many times do I chase after God, because He fed me. How many times do I do the exact same thing that the multitude did as well? Then, of course, comes the thought, well, why did Christ even answer in this manner to them. My opinion, Christ spoke to them on a blunt level so that they could understand. They spoke from their stomach and their eyes (their needs and wants). So He responded to those needs and wants directly. They were so caught up in everything, they forgot about the miracle. They forgot that 5,000 were fed with five loaves and two fish.
Looking back at it…the thoughts that cross my mind…
Who cares when He got there?!!!!
Who cares how He got there????
He just performed a miracle. He just appeared there. There is more to Him that we can possibly imagine (that should have been the thoughts of these people, but it wasn’t).
Again, His response to them, “You seek me to satisfy the flesh, not the Spirit.”
You are here because you’re not chasing after Me, you’re chasing because what I can give you, and today that’s food.
You came because you wanted something, and that something was not spiritual.
Let’s bring it all back again, now.
Do I Chase After Him or Am I Chasing What He Can Give Me
How many times do I seek Jesus for no other objective than to get some kind of temporal benefit! We all fall into this one…I will do this spiritual item (attend Liturgy early, pray more, fast more) IF, and only IF I get this job, this program, this raise, this item of benefit in the world. Unfortunately, we all do this, all the time, we remember God when we want our belly full. It doesn’t have to be physically with food, but when we “want” things.
Our Lord is scarcely sought after for His own sake.…He says, “you seek me for something else; seek me for my own sake. He insinuates the truth that He Himself is that food … “that endures to eternal life.” We want to make sure that when we seek out our Lord, we seek Him diligently through active prayers, readings, fasting, partaking of the sacraments to bring us closer to our Lord, because our souls yearn to be with Him.
The Fast of Nineveh is coming up tomorrow on February 22 (in the Coptic Calendar), what if we took Nineveh as an example for us. When the message of Jonah the prophet arrived, the city prayed, fasted, and sought after and chased God. Hopefully, we can learn to not just chase after Christ, because there is a “fun” event at church, or some “social” event. Yes, these could be tools to help us get our foot in the door, but what about the days when there is no “fun” event, when there is no “social” activity. We still need to come to church, we still need to chase after Him.
I wish that all of us, myself included, of course, will learn to chase after Him every day of our lives, when we wake up in the morning, when we go to sleep. How amazing would that be? My first thought in the morning would be to give thanks for letting the night pass in peace, and then when I sleep, I can thank Him for all that He gave me today. Baby steps. Works in Progress.
We don’t want to labor for the food that which perishes, We don’t want to do things that are temporary. Our focus should be on the everlasting life, on the eternal life.
-Continuing to sojourn in this place.