In today’s Gospel, a vast crowd follows Jesus “because they saw the signs he was performing for the sick.” Then, after he feeds this vast assemblage of people with bread and fish, they want to make him King. But Jesus rejects their overtures. Why?
What the people wanted was in itself good. That the sick should be cured is obviously a good, worthy of pursuit. And to make Jesus King would be simply to recognize him for what he was. Why then did Jesus reject the people’s desires? Clearly because their motivation was selfish. They wanted the benefits of Jesus’ miraculous powers and showed little enthusiasm for Jesus’ teachings, for what he believed in and stood for.
Perhaps we should reflect on our reactions when the Lord does not grant us a favor we have been praying for very sincerely. Is our reaction a complex of anger, annoyance, disappointment and hurt? Are we like the politician whose only interest in religion is his own personal gain? Or are we like the crowd who followed Jesus in the desert, interested in the benefits from his teachings but not interested in the demands his teachings make on us? The ultimate question is: Do I love the Lord because of what he can give me, or for himself and for his goodness?