Twelfth Sunday After PentecostYear B, RCLAugust 12,2018North Fork
MinistriesGospel:John 6:35, 41-51
Jesus said to the people, "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."
A few years ago a television commercial alerted me to a potential deficiency that
up until that moment I had remained blissfully unaware. I hate to cause you
distress, but you may suffer from it as well. I’m talking about the alarming
problem of “eyelash inadequacy.” However its okay, breathe easy, because if
you are among the millions cursed with “inadequate or not enough” lashes, the
makers of Botox, for only $120 every month, will supply you with a product ,
which, along with a special applicator, will enable you to experience life in its
fullness once again.The world of advertising is constantly reminding us of our
shortcomings. It is repeatedly brought to our attention that we have trouble
sleeping, trouble having sex, and all manner of troubles of the body and mind.
The gateway to the proposed solution to our inadequacies is offered at the end of
most pharmaceutical commercials, by a calm reassuring voice urging you to,
“ask your doctor.”
Jesus’ opinion about what we need appears in sharp contrast in the Gospel of
John. “Jesus said to the people, I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me
will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” It is the
blessing that Jesus offers us - a taste of bread that is truly satisfying. We know
something about what it is to receive blessings. We are always asking for
blessings for ourselves and for those about whom we are concerned.
Whenever someone sneezes, we are quick to ask God to bless them. And if you
have spent any time at all in the South, you quickly learn that when someone
says, “Well bless her heart”, it might not entirely be an expression of Christian
What does it mean when the psalmist says, “I will bless the Lord at all times”.
How do we, mere mortals, go about blessing God?
Shortly before I was ordained to the priesthood, I was assisting at the altar at St.
Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Little Rock. As it happened, the Bishop was in

attendance that day, and, I suppose in order to give me taste of the blessing that
was in store for me, he asked me to distribute the bread. My thoughts,
something like, “But I can’t do that, I’m not yet ordained”, must have been written
all over my face. Because Bishop Maze, the gentle insightful man that he is,
smiled and assured me that it was all right – knowing that I was still caught up in
a seminarian’s legalistic notions of who gives blessings and who receives them
and when and where blessing ought to take place.
Communion was proceeding in an orderly fashion. I managed to tear off
appropriate sized hunks of bread and remember to say, “The body of Christ the
bread of heaven” as I placed the bread in the waiting hands. But then after
communing a young couple holding a new born baby, they asked, “Would you
bless our son?”
Well, I realized at that moment, that my seminary training had been woefully
inadequate. No matter how many years I spent in seminary, I couldn’t have
known what to expect. Because even though I was able to place my hand on the
head of this child, make the sign of the cross and offer him a blessing, in the
name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, I could not have been prepared
for the way this infant looked up at me and with his soul-piercing gaze, bless me
to the core of my being. Blessings move in every direction.
But what about this bread of life, this life giving blessing that Jesus offers us? I
think an answer can be found in the Gospel of John by asking why the crowds
were continually gathering round Jesus. Some might have been drawn by the
miracles he performed – the signs that John often speaks of. But miracles of
healing and divination where not unknown among the prophets of the era. It
could have been his teachings, and many of those living lives of oppression
under Roman rule, were no doubt drawn to Jesus’ message of liberation and
justice for the poor, the disabled, the imprisoned, and all those existing at the
margins of society. But I don’t think that is why the crowds followed Jesus.
I think that the people gathered around Jesus because they recognized that here
was a man in whom the rivers of life flowed freely. They could see that in Jesus
was a man whose divine nature lay so close to the surface that to be near him
was to be in the presence of the holy. Jesus exemplified life everlasting by
engaging life as it appeared in each precious moment. He was the bread that
came down from heaven and was so full of life, so conscious, so aware of the
divine spark that was within him, that he could not die.And the people that
followed him from one side of the Sea of Galilee to the other wanted that for
themselves. They already had Moses and the Prophets. They had the Law.
They knew how to live justly and properly. Jesus came to teach them, no..., to
show them, to demonstrate for them... how to live fully. Jesus said, “I am the
living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live
forever.” And the power of that demonstration of how we are to live is made
evident in the fact that 2000 years later we are still seeking to understand how
we can tap into the divine nature that lives within us, just as it existed in
Jesus.And so, let’s come back to the bread. We have been given the Eucharistic
feast. Sometimes I wonder if our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters don’t have
a clearer understanding of the nature of communion than we do. While most
Protestants view the bread and wine of communion as symbolic of the body and
blood of Christ and a reminder of Christ’s sacrifice, Roman Catholicism teaches
that the consecrated bread and wine are transformed into Christ’s body and
blood. While such an idea sounds a little gory to our Protestant sensibilities, this
understanding, a belief that the elements actually become the Christ, can serve
as a reminder that we are not called simply to follow Christ’s teachings, or to
model his goodness, but to be the Christ.Life everlasting is a promise that finds
fulfillment as we discover the richness of each moment - just as Christ
discovered his Godly nature in each moment that unfolded. The gift of the
Eucharist is an opportunity to unearth, in the taking of the bread and the wine,
your own Christ nature. It is this beautiful moment, the Eucharistic moment,
when we are able to put aside all other thoughts and concerns, and feed on the
bread of everlasting life.And so it was that the angel of the Lord said to Elijah,
“Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you."