Signs and Wonders
(18th Ordinary Sunday: Exodus 16:2-15; Ephesians 4:17-24; John 6:24-35)
In the three-year cycle of the Sunday Lectionary, we are currently in “Year B,” which highlights the Gospel of Mark on the Sundays in Ordinary Time. But there is always a four-week break, when the Church presents the “Bread of Life Discourse” from Chapter 6 of John’s Gospel.
Today we have the opening, a curious exchange between Jesus and people who had been fed at the multiplication of loaves and fishes. “Rabbi, when did you get here?”—“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.”
They had seen what he did, of course, and they continued to seek him out because they wanted more—more of the same. But they had not seen the sign; they had missed the meaning of the event.
In the first reading, the Israelites in the desert longed for the fleshpots of Egypt, forgetting the signs and wonders by which they had been rescued from slavery, and murmuring not so much against Moses and Aaron as against the Lord their God.
At La Salette, Our Lady describes a similar behavior. Twice she mentions people swearing and throwing in her Son’s name.
There seems to have been a longing for the past among the Christians of Ephesus. St. Paul writes, “You should put away the old self of your former way of life.” At the very least, they needed to learn that a genuine relationship with the Lord was not compatible with gentile ways, a message echoed at La Salette.
La Salette also has signs and wonders: the light, the tears, the roses, the chains, and the crucifix, the simple peasant garb; and let us not forget the once seasonal spring that has never ceased flowing since September of 1846. Also, in her discourse, Mary makes a wondrous promise, biblical in its extravagance, of abundant harvests for those who will return to God.
What does it take for us to have a truly personal relationship with the Lord, not based only on obedience or on our needs? How can we be worthy tabernacles of God’s grace? We can begin by seeing the signs of his presence, and recognizing the wonders of his love, as shown by the Beautiful Lady.
Wayne Vanasse, and Fr. René Butler, M.S.