19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Three persons can look at the same garden full of beautiful flowers, and have different responses or reactions. A rich woman sees it, and her first compulsion is to hire a landscaper who can make a garden just like that one in her own yard. A florist sees it, and his first thought is about money – that is, how much money he can make out of those beautiful flowers from that garden if he owns it.
A simple person passes through the same garden and sees those beautiful flowers as God’s gifts. They have value far beyond their worth in terms of beautification or profit. They are a masterpiece of God’s creative art… they are an expression of God’s love.
What we live for determines what we see in life and gives clearer focus to our inner vision. What do you think makes the third person see the garden and the flowers as an expression of God’s love? It must be faith. Faith makes the difference. For someone who has faith, who can see with the eyes of faith, no amount of signs of God’s love is needed to make him or her a believer. But for someone who does not have faith, no amount of signs or mighty deeds or miracles can make him or her a believer.
The latter (representing those without faith) is the case of the Jews that Jesus encounters in today’s gospel story. These people are among those that Jesus fed in the desert. But in spite of the great signs that Jesus has done – like the multiplication of bread – they cannot believe and accept what Jesus is saying about himself.
The doubters of Jesus cannot be faulted for taking a second look at him and wondering how his words fit himself, the son of a carpenter. Where they can be faulted is in their failure to recognize and accept that God can and does work great deeds, often using the most ordinary and common things. For them Jesus is just “the son of a carpenter.” They cannot see beyond that. So, their fault is in their failure to recognize that the carpenter’s son in front of them can actually be “more than just that.”
For John, the author of today’s gospel, it all depends on faith. It is the window through which a person views Jesus. Faith enables one to see Jesus as the Bread of Life that has come down from heaven “so that one may eat it and not die.”
Again, it is all a matter of faith: Faith makes the difference. A person of faith has eyes that can see signs of God’s love in all things. Faith enables us to look beyond and see something more. It means looking beyond appearances, looks and images, and see God’s enchanting beauty. It means looking beyond limitations, weaknesses, and failures, and see God’s forgiveness and mercy. It means looking beyond burdens, hardships, and difficulties, and see God’s guidance and providence. It means looking beyond events, circumstances, and conditions, and see God’ abiding presence. It means looking beyond material wealth and possessions, and see God’s eternal glory. It means looking beyond the good things we receive and discover the goodness and love of God.
If we were only to learn to see things with the eyes of faith, we will come to the wonderful realization that everything is a sacrament of God’s presence. God’s hidden presence is there all around us, every moment, and yet we often fail to pay attention to it.
Let us end with a prayer: Lord God, forgive us for our failure to recognize Your presence due to our presumption and unbelief. Give us faith that will enable us to see You in everything… to look beyond and see something more. Lord Jesus, open our eyes of faith to the signs of Your generosity and goodness… to the proofs of Your abiding presence… to the reminders of Your call to conversion… and to the expressions of Your faithful love. May we be able to recognize You at work in nature, present in the ordinary events of life, and alive in the goodness of people. May we come to the wonderful realization that everything is a sacrament of Your loving presence. Amen.