God of benefits or benefits from God?

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Today, there are those who follow Our Lord out of love; but there are those who do so out of mere interest, hoping that He will grant a comfortable and materially stable life.

Newsdesk (July 27, 2021, 2:15 PM, Gaudium Press) On the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, we were presented with two miracles, two multiplications of loaves.

In the first reading (2 Kings 4:42-44), the Prophet Elisha tests the faith of a man who comes to give him loaves made from the first fruits of the earth, saying to him, “‘Give to the people that they may eat'”; and in the Gospel (Jn 6:1-15), we see the delicacy and kindness of Our Lord in distributing to a large crowd, about five thousand men, the necessary food, multiplying the five loaves and two fish that a boy brought with him.

Of course, we are led to consider the practical aspect of such events: a hungry crowd, lack of food, God works a prodigious miracle and quenches everyone.

However, it is not proper for God to perform miracles only for the bodily satisfaction of others, as many like to think. He always has a much more supernatural and elevated purpose in everything he does than what our pragmatism wants to pay attention to.

Moving forward a few chapters in the reading of St. John’s Gospel, we read that “the next day, the crowds climbed into boats and came to Capernaum, looking for Jesus.” And what did the Divine Master do? Did he multiply more loaves of bread to satisfy their hunger?

“Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye have seen signs, but because ye have eaten bread and been filled. Work, not for the food that is lost, but for the food that endures to eternal life.” (Cf. Jn 6:22-27) Our Lord wanted, more than to satisfy the bodily hunger of the crowd, to show them who He was: the Messiah, the Son of God who was to be followed and honored.

Today, there are those who follow Our Lord out of love; but there are those who do so out of mere interest, hoping that He will grant them a comfortable and materially stable life. Paraphrasing St. Teresa of Avila, there are men who seek the benefits that God can provide for them; these love the “benefits of God,” but do not seek to love and serve the “God of benefits.”

St. Paul shows us that the solution to detach ourselves from this pragmatic and materialistic view is to follow the path that God has marked out for each one of us, never deviating from this call: “I urge you to walk according to the calling you have received” (Eph 4:1). What is the call that God makes to me? Holiness, the fulfillment of the Commandments, and the duties of piety of a true Catholic.

By João Paulo de Oliveira

Compiled by Sarah Gangl

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