“…they themselves got into boats and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus.” (John 6:24)
People go searching for Jesus. That is what is happening in today’s gospel, but the search is a little deeper than that. Jesus calls the people out immediately and says that they were searching for him only because they were filled with the bread at the multiplication of the loaves in last week’s gospel. They were searching for something perishable, something temporal. They weren’t authentically looking for Jesus, so He tells us not to work for food that perishes but for food that is eternal. That is what will really satisfy us and really give us our fill.
The search of the people in the gospel is our search. We too search for God and are often searching for him in all the wrong places. We may think we find the divine in temporal joys, but we can only find him when we enter into a profound and deep relationship with him. This search is part of the human spirit. This search is essential to bring us fulfillment. This past Friday was the feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, and I read this beautiful passage written by a former Jesuit Superior General, Father Pedro Arrupe, many years ago:
Nothing is more practical than finding God,
than falling in Love
in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
It will decide
what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read, whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in Love, stay in love,
and it will decide everything.
That’s the key to our search for God: we must fall in love! This requires commitment, which many of us are hesitant to enter into because it requires change on our part. But we cannot live our lives going from one fleeting pleasure to another. We must discover this Love. We must embrace it, live for it, die for it, and treasure it above all else. Jesus is offering an end to our search today when he promises us the bread that never perishes: the Eucharist. This divine bread, which we partake of today, is a tangible sign of that love. It is eternal, it is a seal, and it satisfies our hunger for the transcendent.
We must enter into this loving relationship that Jesus offers. Often we don’t discover what love truly is unless, like Father Arrupe writes, we have our heart broken. I’d take it a step further: often we don’t truly discover what love is until someone takes your heart out of your chest, throws it on the floor, shatters it, stomps on it and then has it for dinner. Ok, I may have gotten carried away there, but sometimes it is in the hurt of a broken heart that we discover how deep our love for someone is or isn’t. This love that Jesus offers is life altering. Our relationship with him should alter the way we live our lives, the way we go about our day, and should leave us in a state of joy. So our search for any meaning should end right here at this altar where we receive Jesus Christ. Stop looking. The search for Love ends here. “Fall in Love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.”