Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Food that Lasts

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, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and 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 crowd that 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. Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into 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 are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” John 6:15-27

As the new year opens, there is a great deal of conversation about diet, exercise and weight loss. These were the very same media venues who were touting rich desserts and treats for the holidays. Statistics show that folks flock to gyms and diet centers early in a new year and quit by the time early spring arrives. We seem to be people with little self-control and discipline. Americans can be faddish and fickle, and we make heroes of celebrities with nothing but good looks and ignore the constant, the discipline and the kindest of heroes.

The people that Jesus encountered on the far side of the lake were as fickle and as hoping for a deal or some magic as we can be. They wanted an easy solution for the challenges in their lives. Jesus tried to tell them about the added challenges of living faithfully but they just wanted to be dazzled. It is comforting to know that people are alike throughout the ages. It means that Jesus' words to them are for us too, today. Jesus calls us to be followers, with expectations of a long term relationship not a flash in the pan. Jesus invites us to begin this year with solid determination to be faithful and loving following him in the way.

Today, I ask God to help me be a better follower, with more patience, forgiveness and gentleness. Help us to see the growth over the long term, and not worry about the bumps and losses in the short term. Let us cling to the eternal, so that the small everyday things may not defeat us. And may this be the year when we do everything to follow him who is love incarnate, forgiving everyone and sharing everything we have so that we may truly be known by the love we share.

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