THEMES: God’s provision and seeking his Wisdom
How do we deal with those who oppose us, both within our families and among our enemies? When someone who has betrayed us or attacked us dies, how do we respond? Outside of God’s Reign we may feel that we are justified in retaliating against our opponents. We may feel justified in celebrating the demise of our enemies. But when we seek to live according to the principles of God’s Reign these responses are no longer an option for us.
In the Gospel reading for this Sunday, Jesus continues to explain what he means when he proclaims himself as the Bread of Life. He invites all who would come to him to eat and drink and know life, and he promises that those who share in his life will be raised at the last day. His promise is for an overflowing abundant life that cannot be destroyed even by death – and Jesus offers this invitation to all. He is not cowed by his opponents, but invites even them to come to him to find life. In the Old Testament, David grieves for his son, Absalom. If you trace the story, it becomes clear that David had failed as a father. Although he did try, rather half-heartedly, to make things right with his son, Absalom becomes so angry that he undermines David’s rule, and ultimately leads a rebellion against his father. Then, when Absalom is killed in battle, David’s response is not relief or celebration at the demise of an enemy, but deep grief over the loss of a son.
The essential message this week is this: We can never use the actions of others as an excuse not to love our enemies. It’s not that it’s easy to love those who oppose us. It’s that to do anything else but love simply increases the cycle of evil and violence, leading the world and us into destruction. It’s a tough call this week – but a life- giving one.
John 6 is a tough section of the Gospel to read and understand. The claims that Jesus makes here are shocking and hard for his listeners to believe. On the one hand, they know Jesus and his family, so his claim to a divine origin seems far-fetched. On the other hand, he claims to be able to give life – through eating his flesh! Apart from the disturbing cannibalistic overtones, for the Jews it is blasphemy for a human being to claim to be a source of life. But, clearly Jesus is not concerned about people’s opinions. He speaks his truth boldly and unapologetically.
Like Jesus’ listeners, we may also be tempted to miss the signs of God’s presence and life that are right under our noses. We may also be tempted to believe our very limited human perceptions over God’s invitation. We may even struggle with the challenging way God’s message is presented to us. But whatever our response may be, the call remains: if we seek the life that God offers, we have to “eat the flesh of Christ” – which is really saying that we need to allow the whole of Christ’s being (Christ’s character, values, mission, and message) to become part of our deepest selves, shaping us into true followers of the Jesus way.
How can you allow Christ to fill you even more today?
Whenever we are faced with a challenge like this one from Jesus, we have to respond – either by turning away or by accepting the call and dedicating ourselves to Jesus’ life. Today, throughout the day, try and dedicate yourself more fully to Jesus.
As you have called me, Jesus, I come to you to receive your gift of life.