Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 14, Year B)
Grant to us, Lord, we pray, the spirit to think and do always those things that are right, that we, who cannot exist without you, may by you be enabled to live according to your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
John 6:35, 41-51
Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Jesus answered them, “Do not complain among yourselves. No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
Faith from the Margins to the Web Authors: Mary, Willie and Charles
Mary, Willie, and Charles are regular attenders of the weekly healing prayer service and feeding program of a local Episcopal church. All three are now older adults who live a short walk from the church; all three have experienced homelessness in their own lives, families, and communities.
We gathered as a small group to discuss the lectionary readings for the 11th, 12th, and 13th Sundays after Pentecost, which pivot around this central point: “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” We’ll hear from the authors of this group for the next few weeks.
The group began to talk about the ways that we break bread together:
“Eating, breaking bread is what we do with family. It’s something special that I see” said Willie. “We get together at a table, we break bread and as the meal goes we have conversation. We share stories and get to know each other.”
“It’s like family” said Mary. “We feed each other, we eat, we talk and we learn to love each other.”
“And in this part of the passage, Jesus refers to his Father while the Pharisees are criticizing him because they can’t imagine someone holy could come from his human family.”
Willie continued, “The people I know, the friends that I have I’ve often made from eating together. Like when we come here, and we sit with people some of them we know, and some we don’t know. But we get to know them, and it’s like we become family. It isn’t just about the food we put in our mouths. It’s the community that happens around the table. Maybe this is what Jesus meant, in the sharing of the bread with each other we become family.”
This made me reflect a little to the group “You know, your conversation is giving me a whole new meaning on Jesus dining with sinners and tax collectors, too, like we hear throughout the Gospels. It wasn’t just ‘oh, I’ll eat with these people, too’ to prove a point; it was saying in action, ‘we are one family.’ It is less about what we do, and more about the fact that we are there, in the company of Jesus. We are known, and loved and belong and that changes us.”
“Bringing us all together” said Willie. “That’s it. Bringing us all together. It isn’t just doing what needs to be done, but doing it with love and care, treating each other like family. And if we’re all the people of God, then that means we need each other, too.”
Perhaps feeding each other really is a taste of the Bread of Heaven.