Dear People of St. Francis’,
All through August we depart from Mark’s gospel in the Lectionary and explore the analogy of Bread and Body with John the Evangelist. The more Jesus asserts that he is the Bread of Life, come down from Heaven, the more urgent the opposition to this teaching becomes. Even his disciples begin to question it. “This teaching is difficult,” they observe, “who can accept it?”
Why is it that the disciples who, just a short while earlier witnessed and accepted a miracle that caused Jesus to bring forward abundance from a few scant loaves of bread, now cannot accept that Jesus compares himself with that heaven-sent miracle? Jesus offers himself to be miraculously created, broken, and shared to feed the whole world, and this is the teaching that we, his disciples, find “too difficult.”
The temple authorities and the Pharisees object to this on theological grounds. They think Jesus comes too close to blasphemy by comparing himself with the manna that sustained their forebears in the wilderness, but what excuse do we have? We are not concerned with the theological argument. Instead, do we wonder, “If Jesus offers himself to be broken and shared, what does that mean me, his follower? What is my role in feeding, caring for, saving the world?” Deep down we know the answer; that we also must be willing to be blessed, broken, and shared in order to accomplish God’s saving work in the world, and this is, in fact, a difficult teaching.
How do you decide what you are willing or unwilling to share in doing God’s work? Where do you draw your lines? I invite you to sit with these questions in prayer this week.