Collect of the Day:
Father, you open the Kingdom of Heaven to those born again by water and the Spirit. Increase your gift of love in us. May all who have been freed from sins in baptism receive all that you have promised.
We make our prayer through Jesus Christ your Son Our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, ever One God world without end. Amen.
The First Reading: Acts of the Apostles 7:51-8:1: Jesus, Lord, receive my spirit.
The Gospel: John 6:30-35: It was not Moses, but My Father who gave you bread from Heaven.
The setting for today’s Gospel is the day after Jesus miraculously fed the five thousand with two barley loaves and five fish. So it makes the opening question in this passage from St. John strike me as very powerful.
“The people said to Jesus: ‘What sign will you give to show us that we should believe in you? What work will you do?'”
But how could they ask for a “sign”, when scarcely a day before they had witnessed such a “sign”, and when after witnessing it, they could hardly be restrained from making Him a King? This verse of Scripture has given me pause to reflect on many occasions. The Gospel of St. John is full of “signs”, Jesus turning the water into wine, Jesus healing a royal official’s son, Jesus healing the paralysed man and Jesus stilling the raging sea. And these are only the ones that had occured before he had fed the multitude. So most of these people would have been aware of some of if not all of these previous “signs” so why ask for more?
I believe it is possible for religion to become a side show, a seeking for the miraculous instead of searching for the change of heart that leads to a more personal relationship with God and our fellow Human Beings. Many times on television I hear the Preacher declaring that “Signs and Wonders” are performed in this place, in my old neighbourhood there was a tent every Friday night that promised the same “Signs and Wonders” on a weekly basis. It seems that God for many is part of a travelling show and is at the beck and call of these would be miracle makers.
I am not denying that God can and still does perform miracles, rather that by concentrating on the “sign” we can actually miss the “Way”. These people in St. John’s Gospel were in the presence of the Christ the one who tells us that:
“I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”.
And they missed the moment by seeking for more. What I feel we can learn from this is that by concentrating on the “signs” we can miss what is right in front of us, or what I term the ‘Miracle of the Ordinary’. A touch from a loved ones hand, a smile of a stranger, the fact that we actually woke up this morning, a flower or sunset there are many more examples I could give.
Especially at this time of year during the Easter period we have the ultimate sign of Our Lord’s Resurrection to ponder. Although as Jesus explained during the Parable of Lazarus and Dives:
And he [Dives] says,
Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead,they will repent.
And he [Abraham] said unto him,
If they hear not Moses and the prophets,
neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”
Some food for thought.
Do not withdraw your grace from us, Lord: by it alone we can give ourselves wholly to your service and obtain your help in our every need.
We make our prayer through Jesus Christ your Son Our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit ever One God, world without end. Amen.