Does someone follow Jesus out of faith – or because of what they think they will get from the relationship?
That was the question Pope Francis asked the congregation in his homily April 16, 2016, at Casa Santa Marta in the Vatican, reported by Vatican News.
He reflected on the gospel of the day from John 6, where the crowd wants to make Jesus their king after he performed the miracle of the loaves and fishes. But Jesus is having nothing to do with that, saying: “You are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled.”
In other words, the Pope explains, they could have sought him out of faith, by how his words touched their hearts. Unfortunately, they may have simply been excited to see more miracles – especially when they were the beneficiaries.
The Holy Father challenged listeners to think about how we follow Jesus and recall how he has influenced our lives:
“We will find so many great things that Jesus has freely given us because he loves each one of us. Once I have considered the things Jesus has done for me, I can ask the second question: ‘What should I do for Jesus?’ With these two questions, perhaps we can purify our faith of any self-interest. When I see all that Jesus has given me, my heart generously says: ‘Yes, Lord, I shall give all. I won’t make these mistakes and commit these sins again. I’ll change my life in this way…’ [This is] the road to conversion by love: ‘You’ve given me so much love, so I shall give you my love’.”
The Pope concluded by encouraged Christians to ask if they are following Jesus from faith or from self-interest: “What has Jesus done for me in my life out of love?’ And seeing this, ‘what should I do for Jesus?”