August 1, 2021
There are many important things that we can’t see. But, as Jesus shows in today’s Gospel, God gives us signs to lead us from what is visible to what is invisible. To His Real Presence.
- In the gospel reading, Jesus starts with an enthusiastic crowd, but rebukes their enthusiasm because Jesus is disappointed that they have not recognized the signs.
- Signs are very important to our faith because it can reveal what is hidden and beyond our senses.
- Some teaching sign from Jesus include: listening and being fed on the Word of God, spiritual blindness, miraculous tears or blood on statues, Padre Pio’s stigmata, image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, miracles in the Holy Eucharist and more.
- Signs are very important and strengthen our faith in the Holy Eucharist, teaching us that He is truly present and that the Mass makes present the sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary.
- If we don’t make an act of faith in Jesus and in His sacrifice, we don’t receive the graces. The supernatural graces only flow when there’s faith.
- Each one of us can be a sigh to others by our own actions, attitude and gestures.
- We ourselves can be signs to other people to lead them to Jesus and to faith in the Holy Eucharist.
In this Gospel, Jesus told the crowds they were following Him because they ate the loaves, not because they saw the signs which would lead them to faith. Jesus is disappointed because the people did not recognize the signs. Because Jesus begins with the miracle, the loaves and fishes, He is teaching us that He is truly present Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Holy Eucharist.
Even today, signs are very important and strengthen our faith in the Holy Eucharist. Many times throughout the history of the Church, especially in recent decades, there have been a lot of miracles in the Holy Eucharist. And the Eucharist is His sacrifice, that the Mass makes present the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. And so, these miracles are also signs to help us realize that God is still present and active in our world, and He is teaching us about a central truth.
“Amen, amen, I say to you, you’re looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled.” So, this gospel is, we have to remember what the situation is. Jesus has just, the day before, He’s just did the great multiplication of bread, and fish on the mountainside for 1000s and 1000s of people. And so, they were so enthusiastic that they wanted to make Him king. And instead of embracing that enthusiasm, Jesus leaves, and the next day, there’s a lot of these people find Him. And they gather in the synagogue at Capernaum. And so, they’re still very, so enthusiastic about Him. But notice, Jesus responds, He doesn’t say, well, it’s great to see so many people here, and I’m so glad that you all have seen the light and follow Me and recognize Me. He doesn’t say anything like that. He doesn’t, like a politician kind of build on the enthusiasm. On the contrary, He throws like a cold shower, on their enthusiasm instead of embracing their enthusiasm, what does He say? His response is pretty harsh. “You are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled.” So why is Jesus, why does He throw this cold shower? And why is He rebuking them after they followed him? Because the problem is their motivation. Why did they follow him? He says why they followed Him. He says it was because you ate, you ate the loaves and were filled. Because they had free food and miraculous food, and so they have found someone who can give them free food. And that’s pretty good, that can make their lives much easier. But so, there’s a lot of selfish reasons, human reasons, that they’re following Him, and that’s what Jesus is saying. Jesus, who reads into the hearts, that’s what He is saying, that’s the motivation for a lot of them. And probably also, there’s also the motivation of curiosity. We want to see some more miracles. It’s very impressive. It’s kind of the fireworks, we want more of that. So why doesn’t Jesus just toss off a few more miracles, and keep revving up the crowd? I mean, that would be our human tendency to, you know, like, if you’re having a political campaign, you do all that you can to try to rev up the crowd, you know, you get great speakers and great music and stuff like that, to try to get the crowd enthusiastic. Jesus does just the opposite. He starts with the enthusiastic crowd, and He, as I say, He splashes water on their enthusiasm, rebukes their enthusiasm. So why, what does He say they have not done? They said not because you have seen signs. That’s what Jesus says to them. You’re not following me because you have seen signs. Jesus is disappointed that they have not recognized the signs. So, what’s the big deal about the signs, right? It’s interesting, in St. John’s Gospel, that He doesn’t use the word for miracles. The word he uses is the word signs, the signs that Jesus, that’s what he’s saying is that the miracles are also signs. And why is that important? And why is that important for us? Because Jesus wants us also to recognize the signs that He is giving. Because signs are leading us from what we can see, what we can perceive, the visible to the invisible, to what is beyond our senses. And so, He doesn’t want us to see a miracle as simply a curiosity, like something that you put in a tabloid newspaper, The National Enquirer. Because then we would be missing the teaching that He is revealing. And so, signs, signs are very important for our faith because it can reveal what is hidden. They teach us about what is hidden from us. And so, let’s just take a couple of examples. We have one in the first reading today about manna, the people are in the desert, and they’re anxious, and angry, and frustrated. And so, God feeds them with manna, the miraculous manna. And the book of Deuteronomy will explain why it wasn’t just to feed them, but was also to teach them – what was it to teach them about? Deuteronomy says, “He fed you with manna that He might make you know that He might teach you that Man does not live by bread alone. But that man lives by everything that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.” So, it wasn’t just about feeding them food, but it was about teaching them a lesson, a spiritual lesson about the importance of listening, and being fed on the Word of God. And there’s so many lessons just in that example of mana about how God provides. Also about the importance of getting up early in the morning that is putting the Lord first in our day. Let’s take another example. For example, we have in a Gospel, where Jesus, after the miracle of the loaves and fishes, what does He do? He begins teaching about the bread, but not just physical bread, but the bread of life. So, He’s using the physical bread, to teach about an invisible reality for our souls, the bread of life, and to teach them about who He is. Not just the one who can give them food for their bodies, but the one who can nourish them for eternal life. And that’s what He says in the Gospel today, “I am the bread of life.” Or later on in a Gospel, when He heals a man born blind, He used this as an opportunity to talk about spiritual blindness, and that He is the true light. Or to take other examples closer to us in our time, for instance, there have been, in recent decades, a lot of examples of statues of our Blessed Mother, that have began to weep tears, miraculous tears, and even tears, sometimes of blood. And sometimes that’s just treated as a curiosity, instead of realizing what is being taught to us. What are we learning by those tears in those tears of blood? It’s not just a curiosity. There’s a message and a strong, powerful message. And that, and those tears, even just human tears are a sign right? When you see someone crying, that’s a sign of something. It’s a sign of something. Oftentimes the sorrow, sometimes of joy, but human tears are a sign. And when there’s these miraculous tears, it’s a sign. Or, for instance, the stigmata of Padre Pio. And sometimes the stigmata of Padre Pio, of him experiencing in His hands and His feet for an a sign for 50 years, the wounds of Jesus. Sometimes he was just treated as a curiosity, as something weird. But there’s a lot that the Lord is teaching us about, for instance, about Padre Pio as a priest continuing and sharing in the Lord’s passion. Or the Shroud of Turin, a sign which exists today. And what is the Lord teaching us through that miraculous image? Or another sign that we have right here? The sign the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe and there’s so much to learn from how that is done. And another sign which is much connected to the gospel today, many times throughout the history of the Church, especially in recent decades, there have been a lot of miracles in the Holy Eucharist. And again, sometimes those are just treated as curiosities, or something weird, but there’s a reason that the Lord is performing miracles, miraculous signs in the Holy Eucharist. Like a host that begins to bleed, and tests show that is human blood, or even a host that changes into flesh. And scientific studies show that is of flesh from a human heart, and even a heart that has suffered trauma, and so again, it’s not just a curiosity. What is the Lord teaching us about the Holy Eucharist? That He is truly present body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Holy Eucharist. And the Eucharist is His sacrifice, that the Mass makes present the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. And so, these miracles are also signs that is to lead us, to help us realize that God is still present and active in our world, and He is teaching us about a central truth. So that’s the first lesson, about the importance of signs for our faith, that miracles are also signs which lead us from the visible to the invisible. And so, it’s worth taking a moment to think a little bit about signs. Because there’s not just miraculous signs, there’s a lot of natural signs, for instance, a smile, or a hug, is a sign. It can be a truthful sign of a person’s affection or it can be a lying sign, an anti-sign, or like say, if a person has a fever, that’s maybe a sign that they have an infection. Or even just like to get to Startzville, our little town here, if you don’t know, is what I mean. Now we have GPS, but traditionally, people used signs. Look at the signs. Is it this way? Or is it that way? Do I turn to the left? Or do I turn to the right? Or do I go straight ahead? You had a situation where you don’t know where Startzville is, and so you look for a sign that says Startzville is this way. Or even think of for instance, for like a lot of human history, or people who are had to hunt for their livelihood. They like that Native Americans or the early hunters and trackers, they had to be very attentive to signs, often little discreet signs that most people wouldn’t notice. But they would notice them because it was a sign of the animal that they were tracking. And so, signs are very important. And signs are very important and strengthen our faith in the Holy Eucharist. Because Jesus begins with the miracle, the loaves and fishes. And then we’re going to see in the Gospels in the next couple of Sundays, how that’s leading to the revelation of the Holy Eucharist, and wanting to teach us that He is truly present, truly given us His body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Holy Eucharist, hidden in the Holy Eucharist. And the Mass makes present His sacrifice on Calvary. And that’s an extremely important point that we have often talked about, because it’s so forgotten, so lost, that the Mass makes present the sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary. That’s very hard to believe. But signs can help us believe. So, let’s take an example. Say you’re a person who doesn’t know anything about the Catholic faith. And you say, Well, I want to see what a Catholic service is like. And say you go and say you some morning you go to a church and say it’s one of those, maybe it’s beautiful, Gothic church, or even say it’s like one of the not just a big, expensive church, but even say, like, take we have the example of the painted churches, here just a little bit to the east, in which pretty poor communities and migrants, but immigrants were able to out in the country, build their church, and they didn’t have a lot of money, but their churches are beautiful. And many of you have probably had a chance to visit some of those churches, made just out in a field bed. You come into church, and it’s not that big, but you sense right away that it’s a church and you enter inside and has all the beautiful paintings and stained glass windows. You sense right away that there’s something special about this place. And say, as you watch, you see people coming in, and you see, as they as they gathered, as they come to church, maybe they get, they enter, they become very quiet. And then you see them in the middle make, they go down on one knee, and make slowly the sign of the cross. And then they go into a pew, and then they kneel down, and they put down their head and it’s like they’re focused, they’re paying, they’re meditating. And then you see other people doing the same thing. Even if you don’t know at all, what the Catholics believe, you sense that they’re coming to something sacred. There’s something special here, there’s something beyond what we can see. And so those simple elements become signs for you, of something invisible. And so, let’s take another example. Say you’re coming to another church, but this church, from the outside, it looks pretty much like an auditorium. And pretty much like an auditorium when you enter. And you see people coming in, and maybe they just walk in, and then they’re talking, and they continue talking. And then they just sit down and continue talking, you think, well, maybe they’re gonna listen to a talk or have a concert or watch a movie, but it seems just human because their attitudes are not signs of something sacred, they’re just signs of something human. And so, they’re simple examples affect us. So, I’ll give you an another example from my own experience. This was back in the 90s when I was in Monterrey, Mexico, and I was part of the committee preparing for the coming home Congress……………………… the National Youth missionary Congress, and they’ll be like 10,000 young people from all over Mexico gathering for this big Congress. The organizers want it to be very special. And so, they so that the first Mass was in a big Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, in Monterrey, and 1000s, filled with 1000s of people. And they had, as they were coming, they want to make it a real special Mass for the youth. So, they had a praise and worship band, you know, with guitars and drums and electric guitars, and so forth, and it was a very professional group. So, they were playing music as they were coming in, lively music, all throughout the Mass, I mean, there was practically no silence at all in the Mass, but that the group was very competent. And even as the kids were leaving this music going on, and had to make it even more special, they give each of these thousands of youth a balloon as they’re entering. And so, what’s happening when you have a church filled with 1000s of balloons, what’s happening all during Mass. I don’t think any of the young people fell asleep during that Mass. And they probably thought, wow, that Mass went really quickly. But how many of them made an act of faith to realize that the sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary was present there? Because nothing says the sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary, like a balloon, right? I’m sure that’s what the disciples were doing at Calvary, they were probably handing out balloons. Right? That’s what you think of when you see a balloon, right? You think of all Jesus sacrifice on Calvary? Right? So, I’m sure that the organizers had good intentions. But were these balloons, signs that helped them make an act of faith? Or are they anti signs that made it harder to make an act of faith? Because if we don’t make an act of faith in Jesus, and in His sacrifice, we don’t receive the graces. We might have an enjoyable experience. But the supernatural graces only flow when there’s faith. So, signs are very important. And in our situation today, when there’s been such an extreme loss of faith in the Holy Eucharist, at least in our country, even most Catholics don’t believe that Jesus is truly present, in the Blessed Sacrament and even less know that sacrifice of Calvary is made present in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. That is a disaster and one of the reasons, one of the practical reasons is because there’s not enough signs, and there’s too many anti signs. So, signs are very important. These are very simple, we can’t make miraculous signs, God can only do that. But there are also simple practical signs that we can do. For instance, I mentioned that the painted churches, that was the people there, who built a beautiful church, they didn’t have a lot of money. But the church expressed their faith, the church was a sign, it was of their faith. One day, we hope that we’ll have a beautiful church here. We right now we still have our portable St. Joseph’s chapel, or for instance the music, the music, select music is very powerful, it can signify something very worldly, or it can signify something sacred. Like for instance, Gregorian chant is such a powerful musical sign. Or also the attitude of the priest and the ministers and how the Mass is celebrated. Those are signs. And so also, each one of us can be a sign. Our own actions and attitudes and gestures can help. Just the fact that you came to Mass and even way out to the Mission where our air conditioning doesn’t work. So, it’s not a very comfortable place. Like our benches are not the most comfortable benches. Why did you do that? That’s a sign. Your action is a sign. When we make that sacrifice, the friendliness we express, the way we dress. The way we dress is very important to that. If you’re going to a wedding, if you’re going to the beach, you know, you’re dressed differently. And so, the way we dress is a sign. Silence, reverent silence is a powerful sign, in a very noisy world. Also, for Holy Communion, the traditional way of receiving Holy Communion, kneeling and on the tongue is a powerful sign because it’s a sign that that’s something you do. Usually right when you go to dinner, you don’t kneel down, right and stick out your tongue, right? That’s not the normal way of eating. It’s because it’s a sign that this is not something normal. This is not a normal food. This is a sacred, divine food from heaven. And so just the simple act of kneeling and receiving on the tongue are simple, but effective signs that speak to us. And so, Jesus is speaking about the importance of signs, miraculous signs, and even human signs. The fact that the Mass is filled with signs and like the holy water at the beginning, that sacramental is also a sign. The water is a sign as well as transmitting grace. “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs. But because you ate the loaves, and we’re filled.” God willing, we’ll continue in the following weeks. This is the rest of these Gospels from John 6, about this teaching of Jesus, about them, but today, just the importance of signs. And so, let’s ask our Blessed Mother to help us be attentive to the signs that God has given. And I mentioned a number of them. And He continues to give, for instance, those Eucharistic miracles. That’s a sign for our times, and what Eucharistic faith is being so attached and also that we ourselves can be signs for other people, by our own attitudes and actions, leading them to Jesus and leading them to faith in the Holy Eucharist, so that we can be witnesses of Jesus and His saving gifts for us. Amen.