This gospel reminds us of a good thing we can never get enough of… the endless feast of love that is life in Christ. In case you missed it last week, Jesus lays it out for us once again: I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever.
We’ve grown up with this essential tenet of Christianity. It’s a Bible study basic. It’s been the grist for countless sermons. We know the words. But even now, do we really get it? Not just a nodding acceptance, but do we actively embrace the real-world implications of a life in and for Christ… centered on him, nourished by him?
Or is life in Christ something we are going to get around to when we have the time? After all we have so many obligations. We have mouths to feed, mortgages to pay, credit cards, car payments, tuition, and on and on. And that’s just the cash side of the leger. Demands on our time and emotions can be even more pressing. So what to do? Do we put Jesus in the cue with all our other obligations? Or do we drop him in the pit of good intentions that we’re going to get to, someday?
If we see living in Christ as another obligation, as just one more thing to do, we need some very serious attitude adjustment. Living in Christ is not another thing to do. It is the thing to do. It is the only reason we are here. It is all that God expects from us…not results, not contributions, not a quid pro quo deal to do good things for him so he will do good things for us.
Whatever the scriptural formulation… the Bread of Life… the Grace of God… a Life in Christ… it is a gift outright… a gift of overflowing abundance, not of grudging scarcity. It is a life based on acceptance, not on denial. It is the feast of heaven and earth, not a dry, sacrificial fast. A life nourished by the Bread of Life transforms the routines and chores of the day into prayer. It takes the dregs of the day and makes them a glorious gift to give back to our loving God.
In Christ we find the focus to see past the constant distractions and the downright disasters that visit every life. Our God, in the form of Jesus Christ, gives himself to us today and every day, to nourish our souls, to give our lives purpose and direction. And that direction is one of hope and joy, knowing that we are on our way home to our loving Father, confident that Christ is with us every step of the way.
In this week’s gospel, Christ’s invites us to consume his love, to make it the bone and fiber of our being, to keep coming back for more, to purge the toxins of sin and fill ourselves with joy. No wonder his listeners are stunned. Jesus is telling us that our relationship with God has been completely transformed… from one of distant, awe-filled reverence to one of intimate, unconditional love. In our sins, in our doubts, Jesus invites us to taste and see the goodness of the Lord. Now God has a human face. He is approachable. His love is consumable… ours for the taking.
From the loaves and fishes right through this ongoing discourse on the Bread of Life, the Sixth Chapter of John has a common theme: Trust in God. He loves you and will provide for you… not with the bread you want… not those tempting confections of self-indulgence… but with the Bread you need… the saving grace of our redemption. Come to the table of plenty.
The Reverend David Sellery, Episcopal Priest, Author, and Coach. Fr. Sellery presently serves as Priest-in-Charge, St. John’s Salisbury, CT. Fr. Sellery has excelled at using new media to increase outreach beyond the Church doors via his website, blog posts, and podcasts.
Image: by Joey Velasco “Hapag ng Pag-asa” which features street children as Apostles in the famous Last Supper scene.