Monday, May 9, 2011

filling ourselves on faith

The Gospel reading for today from the RCL is John 6. 22-29
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   windy dawn
    ~two donkeys
     under a cyprus
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(Icon from the Icon Chapel in Glenstal Abbey)

Jesus says something very interesting to those following him in today's reading: ‘Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.' I think this points to something very important about our religious practice. How many of us are involved because of what we can get out of it? Because it makes us feel good in some way? The danger is, what happens if you stop getting what you want? I've lost track of the amount of times I have  heard from someone who isn't active in their faith give as their reason 'I wasn't getting anything out of it.' It's not unreasonable to want to be spiritually fed yourself by your practice of your faith, but if your focus is solely on you, then it is ultimately a hollow faith and holds within it the seeds of its own destruction. It's a bit like eating: we need food to live, and we're entitled to enjoy it, but the most important purpose of eating is give us the strength to lead our lives; if eating becomes an end in itself it ceases to be life enhancing and becomes destructive of our bodies and damaging to our health. So too our religious practices should strengthen us to do God's work in the world.

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