The Tenth Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 13B (Aug. 2, 2015)
Lessons:Exodus 16:2-4, 9-15 Psalm 78:23-29 (24, 25) Ephesians 4:1-16 St. John 6:24-35 Semicontinuous Series: 2nd Samuel 11:26 – 12:13a Psalm 51:1-12
Prayer of the Day: O God, eternal goodness, immeasurable love, you place your gifts before us; we eat and are satisfied. Fill us and this world in all its need with the life that comes only from you, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
6:24So 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. 25When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?”26Jesus 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.27Do 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.”28Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?”29Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”30So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing?31Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ “32Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven.33For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”34They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” 35Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
St. John 6:24-35 New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.
I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
When our boys were young we had an opportunity to visit the plaza at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice. They couldn’t wait to feed the pigeons. They had been watching others do it, and it looked like great fun. So they dropped a couple of Euros in the vendor’s hand, and received two small bags of feed. As soon as they turned away from the booth, the pigeons had them in sight, and swarmed them from every direction. There were pigeons on their feet, their hands, their arms, their shoulders, their heads… and so tightly surrounding them that they could hardly even move!
Jesus must have felt like that in the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel. In the text we considered last week, he fed some five thousand of them in the wilderness. When they came after him, and he realized that they were about to try and forcibly make him their king, he slipped away to the mountain to be alone. That night many of them fell asleep in the wilderness (stuffed with food like Thanksgiving Day afternoon?). When they awoke to find that he had left for the other side of the sea, they swarmed after him (like Venetian pigeons?), and in a tone that bordered on belligerence, began to demand of him: When did you come here? How can we control the power of God? When will you give us more bread?
They had their fill of bread the day before, and it aroused in them a deep appetite. But this was not the kind of appetite Jesus wanted to fill. They were looking for bread – for another free lunch. He was in search of hearts hungry for grace, and lives hungry for the presence of God.
It would be months – perhaps years – before his followers would understand the difference. But once they did, life would never be the same for them. They feasted on their crucified and risen Lord. He became present in their midst in a manner that met their eternal appetite for peace and love and joy and hope. As the brothers of Taizé have taught us to sing:
Eat this bread. Drink this cup. Come to me and never be hungry. Eat this bread. Drink this cup. Trust in me and you will not thirst.
Let us draw near to Jesus Christ, and be nourished by his presence. He longs to feed our hearts and souls through the word, through the sacraments and through the spirit of the gathered community. This is a feeding, which endures longer than life itself. One that grounds us in the power of God, and transforms our lives.
David J. Risendal, Pastor
Exploring This Week’s Gospel:
- How did the five thousand who were fed by Jesus in the wilderness respond to that event?
- Why did they follow him in boats across the sea?
- What did Jesus mean when he told them that if they were fed by him, they would never thirst or hunger?
Connecting with This Week’s Gospel:
- When have I been focused, in an unhealthy way, on “what I can get from God?”
- When have I been aware of the way my faith in Christ feeds me spiritually?
- How do the eternal dimensions of God’s gifts to me make a difference in my daily life?