Look Beyond the Sign & Be Satisfied

Philip Yancey, in his book, The Jesus I Never Knew,shares the following story:

I once showed to a class several dozen art slides portraying Jesus in a variety of forms — African, Korean, Chinese — and then asked the class to describe what they thought Jesus looked like.  Virtually everyone suggested that he was tall (unlikely for a first century Jew), most said handsome, and no one said overweight.  I showed a BBC film on the life of Christ that featured a pudgy actor in the title role, and some in the class found it offensive.  We prefer a tall, handsome, and above all, slender Jesus.

. . . .

Because of the Gospel’s silence, we cannot answer with certainty the basic question of what Jesus looked like.  That is a good thing, I believe.  Our glamorized representations of Jesus say more about us that about him.  He had no supernatural glow about him; John the Baptist admitted he never would have recognized Jesus apart from special revelation.  According to Isaiah, we cannot point to his beauty or majesty or anything else in his appearance to explain his attraction.  The key lies elsewhere. [page 87]

. . . .

The Gospels show that Jesus quickly established intimacy with the people he met.  Whether talking with a woman at the well, a religious leader in the garden, or a fisherman by a lake, he cut instantly to the heart of the matter …. Jesus drew out something else, a hunger so deep that people crowded around him just to touch his clothes.  [p. 89]

Jesus drew out a hunger ….people who came to him wanted more.

Those who came to Jesus in today’s Gospel came because they had seen a sign or THE sign, but because they had eaten of the loaves and fishes.  He tells us to look beyond the sign, to look beyond our stomachs, to look beyond our fears and hopes …..even to look beyond the bread and wine …. and to see HIM –and then we will be satisfied.  So many people got lost in the multiplication of loaves and fishes and even the sign of Jesus …. and failed to see Jesus himself and to see what he really was offering.

As we come to Eucharist, we are to look behind the sign, the symbol, the reality of the bread made flesh, to see Jesus as he is and as he comes to us in the situations of our life.  Let’s listen to the challenge he makes ….

Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life.  [John 6:24-35]

A 2003 survey revealed that when Americans were asked what do they really want in life, the answer was [1] love, [2] peace, and [3] joy.  I would believe that if people were asked the same question today, they would answer in the same way …. what do we really want?   We know the right answer … at time we get off track … is the present moment a time of being off track?  For what are we spending our time, our energy, our money … for food that lasts or food that perishes?

I have always “loved” the prayer …. may we enjoy the things of earth and love the things of heaven ….  Use what we have for the enjoyment of life on earth, but see Jesus in our midst AND THEN SEE LIKE HE SEES.

I have often preached a message something like this …. when we are lying sick in a hospital bed what do we want … the beautiful sweater/jacket in the closet at home or the presence of a loved one by our side?

In the Gospel Jesus declares “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”    The bread of life — pan de Vida — pain de la vie …. the bread for all who come to him.

Most of us have eaten something [dessert?] only to say, “It was not worth the calories.”  Today is a day for us to stop and see what we are “eating” and to ask, “am I being satisfied?”  If after communion, I still hunger, then maybe I have not really seen the Jesus beyond the bread and wine.

Just maybe — my image of Jesus and what I “think” Jesus would look like and what Jesus would be saying in 2012 — is not what Jesus really looks like or what Jesus is really saying.

When we eat the bread of life, our fears are calmed and our hope is renewed.

When we eat the bread of life we see people as Jesus sees them — wounded beggars — our brothers and sisters …gender does not matter, religious denomination does not matter — republican and democrat does not matter.

When we eat the bread of life, we see where the sign is pointing — and we know what we must do this week.

When eat the bread of life, we see what is going on in our family — and we know where we need to focus our energy.

Once again a banquet has been prepared — with rich, juicy meat — and choice wine — and then … best of all, there is the bread of life.  Come — Come to the banquet prepared for you.



About thegospelforliving

Retired Catholic Priest - now serving the community as a paralegal and charter school consultant.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s