Daily Reflection
May 12th, 2000
Shirley Scritchfield
Institutional Research & Assessment
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Acts 9:1-20
Psalms 117:1, 2
John 6:52-59

So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you….This is the bread which came down from heaven…the one who eats this bread will live forever."  John 6:53, 58

Typically, when I consider today's gospel reading, I think in terms of Jesus’ death and resurrection.  Yet, this passage is found early in the gospel of John...in the middle of Jesus’ ministry.  It is not placed...as it is in the other 3 gospels...at the Last Supper.  Somehow this different placement of the imagery of “the body and blood of Christ” made me wonder about additional layers of meaning.  As I reflected, I felt that Jesus was calling me to ponder further--to connect to the whole life of Jesus...not focus on his death alone.

What do I hear Jesus saying here?  In this passage, Jesus refers to himself as the bread of life.  Bread was and is a major component of sustenance for most of the world.  For some, it is the only source of sustenance.  When Jesus refers to himself as living bread, he is pointing to bread’s centrality in life.  But, for bread to feed the physical body, it must be eaten, absorbed, ingested...it must become a part of ourselves.  Just so, for us to gain the life Jesus speaks of, we must take him into ourselves--his flesh must become ours, and our flesh become his....we become as Jesus.

OK, fine, I have the metaphor...but what does it mean!  What can we do with these verses?  How we move toward the life Jesus refers to?  For that matter, what is the life Jesus refers to?

As I read the gospels, every part of Jesus’ ministry--his actions, his parables, his selflessness point to love as the central essence of meaning, of life.  Jesus talked of and showed us firsthand a God who is love, a God who is found in love, a God whose incarnation embodied love.  The utter centrality of Love is found in the commandments which Jesus emphasized...the commandments that we love God with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strengths, that we love our neighbors as ourselves (that means both our neighbors and ourselves--if you're like me, I often forget the 2nd part), and lastly, that we love our enemies.

Ultimately, we are to find life in loving relationship...to God, to one another...even...no, most especially, those others we would rather not be in relationship with.  Life is not found in achievements, affluence or appearance...though you wouldn’t know it to watch we Americans, would you?  Most of us run in reckless...and constant pursuit...of position, power, money, youthful appearance...and we run and run and run...  

And even when we are reasonably successful we’re still hungry...hungry for the life of which Jesus speaks.  But, we are also totally human...by ourselves, we cannot come to know a life centered in love.  It just won’t happen...we are too weak--too tied to our own egos, too tied to the material/cultural world we inhabit.  But, when we allow ourselves to eat of the bread of life, we are given new eyes to see, new ears to ear

--the eyes are not just our eyes--they are the eyes of love
--the ears are not just our ears--they are the ears of love
--we become new creations in love, we see and feel differently
--the gifts God has placed within each of us open to the fullness of life...for
the work of love for which they were intended.
--we see ourselves as an expression of God’s love...and therefore loveable
--AND we see that in reality other people (even those we find not to our 
liking) are the same.
When we turn away from our egos--taste of the bread of life, the Spirit of Christ--everything shifts.  We learn/see that we--and they--are spiritual beings, loved by God...I am not the only one loved, so are they!  

The bread of life--amazing grace indeed!  

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