"Chasing Jesus," William H. Lamar, IV, "Chasing Jesus," The Christian Century, 2003.
In the Sunday Pasch, Lord God, you call us to share with one another the living bread that has come down from heaven. Fill us iwth the charity of Christ and stir us by his own example to break the bread of earth as well adn to share it generously with others, so that every hunger of body and spirit may be satisfied. We ask this through Christ, with whom you have raised us up in baptism, the Lord who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.
From Prayers for Sunday and Seasons, Year B, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.
Some Thoughts on John 6:1-21
Or, perhaps you may wish to think a little about why these two stories (last weeks and this weeks) are chosen together.
Here in this passage we see (very differently from the synoptic tradition) that Jesus gives out the bread as he does in the last supper narrative. "Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated.." (vs 11)
We might read the section on chapter 6 in Raymond Brown (John, vol 1, 348) to see the other places where there are textual parallels between this and the Didache - which was an early church teaching.
They respond to this revelation of who he is by wanting to make him King or by recognizing his prophetic nature. This of course accentuates the reality that he is the incarnate Lord, and that his work in feeding is transformative for the whole world. Jesus, like Isaiah prophesied, is the means by which God feeds the people with good things.
Here then the walking on the sea is again part of the passover theme and offers a glimpse of the promise the meal itself will hold for those who follow Jesus.
In recent weeks there has been a lot of talk about the feeding of people bread. Here is what is interesting to me, the reality is that we as Christians are called to truly give people good things to eat. We are called to feed the hungry. It is an amazing thing that we spend so much time figuring out how to feed those who come into our church that we will miss completely the point of the meal here made in the wilderness. And, that is, that is a meal made in the wilderness. We are called to go out and feed people. We are called to share and to multiply what God gives us. We are to be Jesus' hands in the world.
This passage is echoing the Eucharist because the Eucharist leads to the feeding of the multitudes for Christians. We are literally to make table in the midst of the community and feed people. This uniquely Christian understanding of mission is tied into the Gospel. We are to feed their minds and their bodies. And, we are to do it out in the world.
The church can be so very narcissistic sometimes, thinking that it is all about us! The reality is this is all about the world and our call to be agents of feeding in it. We are the new Eucharistic symbol that is to literally feed people.
To flip this around means that we are completely out of sync with the narrative story and in some ways let off the hook for doing the right thing in the midst of a very private gathering and failing our mission as Christians.
I hope that I will leave a Christian mission to the next generation that has walked across the stormy seas of change and the parting of our front doors out into the world where truly hungry and hurting people's needs are met by a eucharistically empowered people of God. The multiplication of our efforts to change the world around us will be a miracle indeed.
A Little Bit for Everyone
6After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias.2A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick.3Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples.4Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near.5When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?”6He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do.7Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.”8One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him,9“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?”10Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all.11Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted.12When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.”13So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets.14When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.”
15When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.16When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea,17got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them.18The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing.19When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified.20But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.”21Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going.