August 16, 2015 – Twentieth Sunday in ordinary time
Proverbs 9:1-6; Ephesians 5:15-20; John 6:51-58
Gerry Pierce, CSSR
Two thousand years ago in Palestine there was a carpenter preacher who was crucified. That was not anything very unusual. Two thousand rebels had been crucified there a few years before. But what was unusual was this; this carpenter/preacher rose from the dead! So, naturally people began to ask, “who was this man who rose from the dead?” His name was Jesus, he was crucified. What did he do? He went around doing good. There were so many stories about how he had given sight to the blind, given hearing to the deaf, and made the lame walk. He had even provided wine at a feast and provided food for the hungry crowds. He was a man of great compassion. When he saw people in need he did something to help them in their needs. There was certainly nothing dangerous about this. In fact we are told in John chapter 6 that he knew that the people wanted to take him by force and make him king. The people saw a good thing in him and wanted to keep him around. It must have been something else that made him “dangerous.”
Some writers would say that the tide of popularity turned against Jesus after he overturned the tables of the moneychangers in the temple. Jesus is challenging the attitudes of the leaders. He is telling them that the attitudes they are showing are contrary to the values they teach. He is telling them that they have not internalized their own teaching.
People do not like the truth, especially when it challenges their attitudes; and the reaction is often to try to destroy the evidence of the truth or the one who witnesses to it.
The sixth chapter of the gospel of John begins with challenging the people that they were following Jesus because they had seen miracles and been given food to eat. Jesus keeps challenging them that the food is a symbol of something greater that he wants to give them. In the scene in chapter four where Jesus meets the woman at the well we have a similar happening. (This chapter is replete with baptismal teaching.) When Jesus talks about the living water she missed the point and asks that she may have the water so that she would not have to go to the well any more. Here in chapter six Jesus talks about living bread. “I AM THE LIVING BREAD WHICH COMES DOWN FROM HEAVEN; ANYONE WHO EATS THIS BREAD WILL LIVE FOR EVER.”
The whole point of Jesus here is that just as bread is assimilated into the body and becomes part of the body and energizes it, so too Jesus, and his teaching and values and attitudes, are to be interiorized and integrated into us so that we can live out of them and therefore live forever in him.
What we are talking about here is bringing about a consistency between our outer world and our inner attitudes. The living Jesus gave us this bread that was TAKEN… BLESSED… BROKEN… AND GIVEN FOR US. We must be in touch with our blessedness, brokenness, given-ness if our Eucharist is to be a living bread for us. We must have the interior attitudes of Christ.
We will not have these “dangerous” challenging inner attitudes unless we are able to live comfortably within our selves. For this we need solitude, silence, meditation. Without the practice of silence, there is a great danger that we too will miss the meaning of the Eucharist and fail to interiorize and live the “dangerous memory of Jesus” which will qualify us to live forever with him.