Seventeenth Sunday Readings – A Lesson During a Get-Away

A Family Get-Away to Relax –  (John 6:1-15)

It was one of those weeks – too many things going on! We need to take some time off, regroup, refocus. A get-away with just closest family and friends… But then all these people showed up. What are we going to do? Of course, we are happy they came. (Well, mostly happy..) But what are we going to do? We have just about enough food for ourselves.

I had never really paid attention to the beginning of today’s Gospel. “Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples.” But as I entered the scene in my mind, the image of a quiet family get-away for a rest came to mind. I imagine their inner conflict. They really wanted the “downtime”. But they also felt the obligation to feed those who went out of their way to be with them.

Jesus’ Response

In a similar situation, it seems Jesus’ response was very practical. “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” We all know how it unfolded from there. They all got fed, and there was even food left over.

But as I walked around in this image, something else struck me. When the people saw what he had done, they wanted to make him king. Did they miss the point? What had he done? Looking more closely, he had set in motion a process more significant than pulling bread from a hat. In effect, he asked them to share their resources. He modeled that sharing. When all was said and done, they were surprised to realize that they had more than enough if they shared what they had.

What a powerful image of community and collaboration! Wasn’t this an image of the Kingdom of God He was telling them about?

But it seems they really did miss that point. A few verses later, Jesus calls them on it.

“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.”

I am not a scripture scholar but to me, this sounds similar to what he said at the Last Supper. “Do you understand what I have done when I, your Master, washed your feet?”

Our Response

They heard the question… but when they were fed, they did not think about what Jesus did and what it might really mean for them. They stopped at the surface of their experience, relieved from their hunger.

Maybe there is something more we need to think about when we remember that Jesus said: “Do this in memory of me.” Was he not saying, Just as I have offered myself to you, so you should offer yourselves to one another? Jesus speaks to each of us.

Saint John Paul II, reminded us of this in Yankee Stadium.

“The poor of the United States and of the world are your brothers and sisters in Christ. You must never be content to leave them just the crumbs from the feast. You must take of your substance, and not just of your abundance, in order to help them. And you must treat them like guests at your family table.”

When we see the needs of others, maybe we should see the opportunity to live the kingdom by collaborating and sharing.

Digging Deeper

  • How do I respond to the physical and spiritual needs of those who upset my plans?
  • Do I miss the personal challenge in Jesus’ words “Do this in memory of me”?

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