Ps 119:23-24, 26-27, 29-30
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John.
[After Jesus had fed the five thousand men, his disciples saw him walking on the sea.]
The next day, the crowd that remained across the sea
saw that there had been only one boat there,
and that Jesus had not gone along with his disciples in the boat,
but only his disciples had left.
Other boats came from Tiberias
near the place where they had eaten the bread
when the Lord gave thanks.
When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there,
they themselves got into boats
and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus.
And when they found him across the sea they said to him,
“Rabbi, when did you get here?”
Jesus answered them and said,
“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.
Do not work for food that perishes
but for the food that endures for eternal life,
which the Son of Man will give you.
For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.”
So they said to him,
“What can we do to accomplish the works of God?”
Jesus answered and said to them,
“This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.”
Good News Reflection: Signs or Wonders?
In the first reading for today, Stephen works “great wonders and signs”. Is there a difference between a wonder and a sign? In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus challenges his followers because they had chased after him for the wonderful miracles he performed — wonders that only filled their temporal (earthly) needs and desires.
A wonder is a miracle. A sign points to God as we travel down the road of life toward our eternal destiny.
Why are there fewer miracles today than in the first Christian century? Is it because we have less faith? No, because faith comes from the Holy Spirit, as a gift, and we have no less of the Holy Spirit now than anyone ever did, for God’s Spirit cannot be diminished. We might have less trust, but not less faith. The faith might be hidden, but it’s already within us.
There are many factors that contribute to fewer wonder-full miracles today, but I’d like us to look at the what, not the why. Whether we receive the miracles we ask for or not, God wants the experience to help us rely upon him more fully, because this affects what is eternal within us. His highest priority is the purification of our souls. What good is a miracle if we are not somehow converted by it? Sometimes we receive more conversion if we don’t get the miracle.
Miracles are a normal part of Christian living. Otherwise, Jesus would not have manifested both signs and wonders during his ministry, nor would he have continued doing so through Stephen and the other disciples. But miracles are like the bread that Jesus multiplied: “You should not be working for perishable food.” When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, Lazarus eventually died again. When Jesus walked on water, he got to the other side and the miracle ended. When he calmed the storm, another day came with another storm.
Miracles are a bonus, not the goal. Signs are what point us to the goal. Conversion is the goal. Deepening our intimacy with God is the goal. Greater holiness in daily life is the goal.
As we follow the signs, we become signs that point others to Christ. In your need for a miracle, is your attitude about suffering and endurance pointing others to Christ? When we’re more interested in the wonders of temporal gifts than in the signs of eternal value, we get frustrated with God because he’s not doing things our way. Are you a sign that tells others that God always loves us and knows what’s best for us — or are you sign that says he doesn’t care?
What kind of sign do you want to be?
Beloved Jesus, give me the grace of being able to earnestly turn back to you when earthly matters try to take me away from You and Your paths. Amen.
© 2018 by Terry A. Modica