Still-Life with Fruit, Nuts and Cheese,
Painting by Floris van Dyck (1575 - 1651),
Painted in 1613,
Oil on canvas
© The Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem, Netherlands
Do not work for food that cannot last
After Jesus had fed the five thousand, his disciples saw him walking on the water. Next day, the crowd that had stayed on the other side saw that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not got into the boat with his disciples, but that the disciples had set off by themselves. Other boats, however, had put in from Tiberias, near the place where the bread had been eaten. When the people saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into those boats and crossed to Capernaum to look for Jesus. When they found him on the other side, they said to him, 'Rabbi, when did you come here?'
'I tell you most solemnly, you are not looking for me because you have seen the signs but because you had all the bread you wanted to eat.
Do not work for food that cannot last, but work for food that endures to eternal life, the kind of food the Son of Man is offering you, for on him the Father, God himself, has set his seal.'
Then they said to him, 'What must we do if we are to do the works that God wants?' Jesus gave them this answer, 'This is working for God: you must believe in the one he has sent.'
Reflection on the Painting
In today's reading Jesus is asking us what we are hungry for in life. Is it food? A successful work career? Money?… Or are we hungry for something more? Yes, we can be hungry for things that may well satisfy our senses and please us physically, but there is also the spiritual hunger that needs to be nurtured. I guess we are basically needy beings. We crave physical, emotional, intellectual nourishment. But the spiritual need is often less of an obvious need. It is only when we are aware of a spiritual hunger and thirst within us, that we can grow to spiritual fullness. And that is what Jesus is asking of us today: to be aware of our spiritial lives and 'to work for food that endures to eternal life'.
Jesus uses the analogy of food (not just because today's passage takes place after the feeding of the five thousand), as He understands we would do anything for food if we are hungry. We love our food and we always have done. Look at this beautiful painting from 1613 by Floris Van Dyck. If we feel a slight craving for something sweet in the morning, we would immediately go to the kitchen drawer and get something out. Or if we are hungry in the evening for a larger meal, we would make ourselves something substantial to eat. That is the type of inclination Jesus want us to have in the spiritual life: if we have a worry, offer it to God; if we want to spend time reflecting, let's pop into church, etc… Jesus is there and always ready to satisfy our spiritual hunger.
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