In August MAGNIFICAT is featuring saints who didn’t want to be saints. If we are honest, most of us can relate to this. Few of us have the single-minded determination of a St Thérèse and cut straight to the chase. Or if we think we do, we may be deceiving ourselves, leaning on orthodoxy (or orthopraxis) rather than on God himself.
The Gospel on Sunday August 2 shows the divine response to human fugue or compulsion (both sides of the same coin). After the feeding of the five thousand, crowds of happy picnickers follow Jesus to Capernaum. He challenges their motives, and they respond by asking what they have to do to get “the food that endures to eternal life”. He replies that they must believe in the one whom God has sent. They then perversely ask him for a sign (because you know, the last one might have been an illusion). More food would be good, like that manna Moses conjured up in the desert…
So our Lord goes the whole hog (dead giveaway, that phrase, “I tell you most solemnly”). “It is my Father who gives you the bread from heaven, the true bread: for the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” That’s the one, they chorus. How do we get it?
Now that shocking notion is brought into play: “I am the bread of life.”
Many turned away at this point. But I like to think that they could never quite shake off the astonishing moment when Jesus revealed all. And that in the end, they worked their way back to the place where no one hungers or thirsts: the banquet where even the most reluctant saints are made.