Economic struggle is becoming the norm for many Americans, despite what we may hear in the news. Most live paycheck to paycheck with nothing in savings for retirement, let alone a rainy day. This has left a void in the lives of many, which naturally has been filled by those prescribing a solution to economic woes, among them are those who subscribe to the Prosperity Gospel. The Prosperity Gospel suggests the more we believe, the more God will bless us with financial comfort. Prosperity Gospel preachers are famous for living in lush mansions as evidence of God’s promise for success.
In today’s Gospel lesson (you can read the entire passage below) our Lord addresses this type of follower. “Truly, truly I say to you, you seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.” It seems there has always been those who seek after God for material blessings rather than heavenly.
It is a natural confusion. We hear of many examples in the Holy Scriptures where our Lord spares His followers from physical harm. The lame walk, the deaf hear, the blind see, and the hungry are filled. On the surface it would seem, that God is committed to material blessings. What is not written, but equally obvious if we are sincere, is that everyone who receives God’s material blessings in the Holy Scriptures, still eventually finds death. We all eventually die and are buried, and as the saying goes, you can’t take it with you.
This is the essence of Christ’s challenge today. In inviting us to seek the eternal rather than the material, God is reminding us that, despite our best intentions, everything in this life eventually perishes. If we spend our energy chasing the word, then we are chasing what is perishing. On the other hand, if we seeking after eternal life, while we may not receive immediate material blessings, we will receive salvation which is eternal.
We live in a material world. At every turn we are faced with the harsh reality that life can be difficult, and there is no shortage of those offering a material solution. The Church offers an alternative. It isn’t that the Church teaches we should ignore our material needs. Christ did feed the hungry, and He commands us to do the same. Our challenge is place our hope in the material. Our challenge is to stop chasing the world, and to start chasing God.
At that time, when the people saw the sign which Jesus had done, they said, "This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world!" Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself. When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, entered a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea rose because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near to the boat. They were frightened, but he said to them, "It is I; do not be afraid." Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going. On the next day the people who remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. However, boats from Tiberias came near the place where they ate the bread after the Lord had given thanks. So when the people saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves entered the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, "Rabbi, when did you come here?" Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life which the Son of man will give to you; for on him has God the Father set his seal." – John 6.14-27