6th Sunday after Pentecost 8.7.12 Bread from Heaven
Our Lord fed the multitude. He was always trying to get people to see beyond the actual miracle and see it as a sign of something else.
He is saying to them, Not only can I feed you on this one occasion but I can feed you on every occasion; and furthermore I can give you a better kind of bread – from Heaven.
It is hard for people to see that far. If we offered free beer here I suspect the car park would be full. If we advertise eternal life - which we do - only a few come.
What about us? Do we see beyond the sign, or do we also regard God as a kind of private secretary who is meant to look after our needs and meet all obstacles?
He is willing to give us every good thing. It is just that His definition of what is good for us is not the same as ours.
We would tend to go for material physical instant pleasures. He is looking to a larger vision, both in time and in our capacity. I will give you what I think you need, not what you think you need.
We can understand this for a flippant request like millions of dollars, but when it is something more reasonable like a healing of a sickness, and it does not happen - then I might be annoyed with Him.
We can be sure that He has reasons and they are good ones. We need time and grace to see what He has in mind.
At all times we need to trust him. This we need above all because the relationship with Him is more important than any given thing that we might seek.
One thing He is saying to the crowd in this miracle is: Don't think about the bread so much as think about Me. What does this event tell you about Me?
That is where we have gone wrong all along. We have not understood sufficiently that our religion is about relationship to Jesus Himself rather than the things He can do for us. The God of blessings rather than the blessings of God.
We have a lesson from the Our Father. The first part of the prayer is dedicated to God’s view of things coming about, and only half way through do we get to our own personal needs
If we had written that prayer we might have made it much shorter. Our Father, who art in heaven, give us this day our daily bread. Amen! We have to travel a longer route to get what we really need.
We can, with time and grace, adapt ourselves to whatever situation emerges under God’s providence. If we cannot get what we want then want what we get.
Also we can say: I am in union with God and this alone is enough for me. Material blessings are a bonus but I already have what I need.
Sadly many have left already, not comprehending how God could fail to deliver on a particular need. But that is not to read the sign.
Among our other prayers we must pray for the wisdom, patience and trust needed to ride us through our initial difficulties of understanding.
The epistle refers to the Israelites returning to Egypt, or at least they wanted to. This is when we put the comfort of our lives ahead of the will of God.
Sin is when we try to speed things up; to snatch some perceived happiness instead of waiting on God’s idea of our happiness.
If only we had waited for Him – at any point in the last four thousand years.
So we cannot offer free beer but as a consolation have some eternal life instead!