If we take a look at this Sunday's Gospel selection we could certainly use it as an excuse to paint a very attractive but dangerously inaccurate picture of Jesus. The temptation is to see Jesus — who can walk on water, heal the sick, raise the dead and apparently calm not only the seas but my stomach — the same way that crowd did.
The temptation is to see a Savior who’s here to simply meet your needs and make your troubles melt away. One can easily begin to see Jesus as a short-order Savior, here to quench all our earthly cravings. In fact, Saint John tells us the people were so moved by the miracle that they wanted to throw a crown on Jesus and anoint him as their king right there, on the spot! Perhaps they were thinking, “Hey, with this guy in power, life will be one nonstop buffet of blessing!”
If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that many of us first approach Jesus with precisely the same attitude. Our lives are filled with cravings for things such as security, well-being and peaceful relationships.
Even the way many of us shop for actual food offers a striking metaphor of our search for satisfaction. Warehouse stores such as BJ's and Costco allow shoppers to load up on life’s necessities at bargain prices and in bulk, working on the idea that life is better when you can buy more. And the stores offer deals on everything imaginable.
Many of us shop for fulfillment like we shop for groceries. We walk through life loading our massive cart full of stuff that we hope will cure our cravings for the perfect life. And at some point, after hearing rumors of his power and talk of his miracles, we make our way to Jesus. Just like everything else, we throw him into our cart, too, attempting — just like the hungry crowds of John’s Gospel — to anoint Jesus as the ultimate means to all our shallow, earthly ends. In the process, even Jesus becomes just another ingredient in a game we play where the goal is simply to get what we want. It’s a journey that, in the end, proves unfulfilling.