Fascinating gospel reading because it describes for us our own personal journey of faith – when it begins, how it works and where it will end.
Let’s start with the beginning of our faith journey – Jesus says: “You are not looking for me because you have seen signs but because you have eaten your fill of the loaves.” That happens to all of us who call themselves Christians. At some point in our life, we recognize that there is something missing. Our stomachs and minds may be full of material things but our spirit still seems to be hungry. We notice a void and look to fill it. Or perhaps we have been through a bad turn in our lives and we reach out for something bigger than ourselves for comfort or strength. Whatever the case, we seek and, at that moment, our journey of faith begins.
And as we begin to seek, we realize that the objective of our searching is to find something – someone – that is bigger than ourselves – someone who will always be there for us. Listen again to the words of Jesus: “You should not be working for perishable food but for food that remains until life eternal.” It’s because at that point in our faith journey that we realize that our bodies are mortal and our days numbered and our natural urge is to extend that mortality. We recognize that eternity is beyond the grasp of our mortal bodies and minds. But we discover that eternity could be within our grasp if we look toward Jesus Christ.
But then we come to the next leg of our journey. We have acknowledged that we want more from our life – that we are hungry for something greater – we realize that “something” could be our belief in Jesus Christ. But how do we come to the point of believing? Listen again to the words of Jesus: “This is the work of God; have faith in the One he sent.” In one sentence, Jesus tells us that the work of God is to give us faith and that faith comes from the one person he sent. In one sentence, our eyes are opened to the mystery of faith. We are led to understand that the work of God is to give us faith and its faith that brings us home to him.
Have you ever thought of that before? Have you ever thought that the purpose of God is to instill faith in each of us so that He can bring us home? I don’t know about you but I somehow thought that God was about greater things. . . you know, ruling heaven, making sure that all was right in his kingdom, maybe even watching over all those millions of angels to be sure that all their harps were all on key. But instead, we are told that God really is about us. God’s purpose is to be sure that we are given the gift of faith so that we can, one day, be with him. WOW!
For me, that is an enormous revelation. God is about me. God is about you. That is humbling. And when you think about it, every Gospel passage really leads us to that. The entire Bible—both Old and New – is about that. We are paramount in the mind of God. He loves us so much that his purpose is to have us believe enough in him that we are given faith – that we become faithful – and through our faith we begin a journey that brings us to eternal life with Him.
And now we can begin to feel and to understand what Jesus is about and why he came. Listen again to the words of scripture: “This is the work of God: have faith in the One he sent.”
We all know who is the One he sent. It is, of course, our friend Jesus Christ. Now we understand how the mission of God is fulfilled. His mission is to bring us home to him. His messenger was His son Jesus Christ. Now we understand why it is that God gave us His son. So that we could believe and be saved.
In our own humanness, we could not discover God on our own. In the Old Testament, we hear of God giving signs and sending messengers but it was not until He sent his very son, Jesus Christ, that we were fully capable of grasping the message and starting our journey home.
Think about the enormity of that revelation. First that God’s purpose is to give us faith so that we can be united with Him and that God’s love for us was so great and his longing for us to be with Him was so deep that he then sent his son, Jesus, to lead us home.
Just think about what that says to each of us. Do we ever feel as if we are not very important to anyone? The answer is that we are so important to God that his whole mission is to make sure we find our way home to Him.
Do we ever feel as if we are alone and, that ultimately, no one really cares what happens to us? The answer is that God cares. He cares so much that he gave us His son to bring us home.
Do we ever doubt our faith? Have misgivings about trying to live a faith filled life? The answer is don’t have those misgivings. Our entire life is predicated upon a belief system that says: I believe in God and I accept his son Jesus as my savior so that I can live forever with him.
Do we ever wonder about our acts of kindness? Do we ever think that maybe they are not worth something? They are important because every act of kindness mirrors God’s love for us. Every time we perform an act of kindness, we are allowing someone else to see a small piece of God revealed.
For you and for me, this gospel passage has to be extraordinarily important. In it is revealed God’s plan. In it is revealed God’s messenger. In it is revealed the enormity of God’s love for us. In it is revealed the promise of our faith, we believe because we know our belief gives us the promise of everlasting love and life.