O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
you filled your disciples with boldness and fresh hope:
strengthen us to proclaim your risen life
and fill us with your peace,
to the glory of God the Father.
O do good to your servant that I may live,
and so shall I keep your word.
Open my eyes, that I may see
the wonders of your law.
I am a stranger upon earth;
hide not your commandments from me.
My soul is consumed at all times
with fervent longing for your judgements.
You have rebuked the arrogant;
cursed are those who stray from your commandments.
Turn from me shame and rebuke,
for I have kept your testimonies.
Rulers also sit and speak against me,
but your servant meditates on your statutes.
For your testimonies are my delight;
they are my faithful counsellors.
Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.
The crowd that had stayed on the other side of the lake saw that there had been only one boat there. They also saw that Jesus had not got into the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. Then some boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus.
When they found him on the other side of the lake, they said to him, ‘Rabbi, when did you come here?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.’ Then they said to him, ‘What must we do to perform the works of God?’ Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.’
The crowds said to Jesus: Rabbi, when did you come here?
These few words from today’s reading help us to consider our awareness of Jesus’ constant presence with us as we journey through the challenges with which we are confronted each and every day of our earthly lives. Immediately preceding this reading we hear of Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand and of his walking on the water as the storm raged about his terrified disciples. Then comes this moment when the crowds felt that they understood what they had seen but were speedily disabused of their ‘certainty’. In their earth-bound confusion, Jesus teaches with these words: This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.
Today’s reading occurs long before the events we recall and celebrate in the season of Easter. However, these words provide us with the challenge and the guidance that will strengthen and sustain us on our pilgrimage of faith.
As we put today’s reading into context we see that it follows on from two miraculous events: the feeding of so many from so little and the defying of a fundamental physical law of which we feel we can be absolutely certain. Then, as the crowds gather around him, Jesus speaks of belief in the one sent by God, that is faith in that which cannot be seen with our human vision. Jesus is preparing those crowds for the time when they will not be able to gather around him and demand an explanation. Jesus is preparing them for how they should be ready to greet the greatest miracle of all – the resurrection. Jesus is warning them, and us, of the greatest possible test of faith – belief that God fulfilled the ancient prophecies not only by sending his Son to live out an earthly life, but that he also brought that Son through the experience of death into a glorious life of resurrection triumph.
The question is: where are we in all this? Are we doing the work of God by living our lives as ones who believe in Christ’s resurrection, or are we still looking for those signs which keep us rooted behind the barrier we erect between God and ourselves?
Let us pray for the strength of faith that will allow us to believe in him whom God has sent without fear or uncertainty.
Prayers of Intercession
Let us pray for God’s blessing on the Church and on the world.
Make the Church a channel for the life that comes from heaven for the salvation of the world. Guide your people to trust not in the outwards signs of success but in the spiritual power that works silently and unseen.
Be merciful to a world where many are concerned only for the material needs of life. Bless its people with thankfulness for past mercies and insight to see and follow the new signs of your love for all.
Grant to us, who have been blessed with the gift of faith, grace to live as those who are fed with the bread of life. Help us to bring our neighbours and those with whom we work into that holy fellowship.
Have mercy on those who are so burdened by want and care that they cannot feel the love that could be theirs. Come to those who have not known the words of hope, release them from their ignorance and feed them with the bread of life.
We commend to your gracious keeping the souls of those who have died in faith. As they received on earth the bread of the sacrament, may they be made perfect as they rejoice in the bread of heaven.
We pray in the name of Christ, the bread of life for us.
Prayer for the week
Eternal God, in whom is all our hope
in life, in death, and to all eternity;
grant that, rejoicing in the eternal life
which is ours in Christ,
we may face whatever the future holds in store for us
calm and unafraid,
always confident that neither death nor life
can part us from your love in Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Lord’s Prayer
Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.
Let all things their creator bless,
and worship him in humbleness;
O praise him, alleluia!
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son,
and praise the Spirit, Three in One:
O praise him, O praise him,
Alleluia, alleluia, allelluia!
William Henry Draper (1855–1933)
based on St Francis of Assisi (1182–1226)