Monday of the Third Week of Easter

Today’s Gospel passage immediately follows John’s account of the feeding of the five thousand and then Jesus walking on the water.  This passage is the beginning of the famous Bread of Life Discourse in John’s Gospel.  Many people from the earlier crowd have followed him to Capernaum.

One of the most curious lines in this passage might be something that we normally miss when we hear this.  Jesus tells the people, ““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.”

Immediately after Jesus’ miracle with the loaves and fish, John tells us that Jesus knew that the people wanted to make him king.  Now, they merely call him “Rabbi.”  And Jesus accuses them of not following after him because of the miracle.  Rather, he says that they follow him because he gave them bread that filled their stomachs.

So, do they come after him because he is the Messiah?  No.

Do they come after him at least because he is an amazing miracle worker?  No.  Not according to Jesus here.

Why do they follow him?

Free food.

Now, I am sure that this bread was exceptionally good.  Jesus is the Son of God.  I am sure that this was the best bread ever.  Better than any bakery that we know. 


Does Jesus’ accusation hit home for us too?  At least in some way?  I know that there have been times in my life when it should have.

Why do we come to Mass?  What are our expectations regarding Mass?  Free food?  Well, yes.  But not a large amount.  Free entertainment?  I guess that depends on the celebrant.  Good music?  On Sunday, certainly.  But is that really why?  Is that really what we are looking for out of Mass?

As Jesus said, what about the miracle?  What about the bread and wine that become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ?  What about giving thanks to God for that miracle and for all else that we have been given?  What about the opportunity to worship God?  To come together as the Body of Christ and to join our prayers with those of Christ (with the priest acting in persona Christi capitis) and offering them to the Father through the Holy Spirit?

Are we looking for a temporary escape from reality or an entrance into an even greater reality?  Are we preparing through our participation in this earthly liturgy to be part of the great heavenly liturgy for all eternity?  Do we see Mass as an opportunity to partake in the divine life of the Trinity?

Perhaps these questions are ones that we need to ask ourselves.  Or perhaps they are questions that we need to find a loving way to ask others.  When we return from this time of forced abstinence from public Mass, what will be the expectations of ourselves and those around us?  To what are we returning?