The Gospel According to John – 2018.08.12
The Way and the Message
The gospel reading for today is replete with theological errors, it could be a case study in the misapplication of metaphor.
The reading uses the metaphor suggesting that Jesus is the bread of life, like the mana that fell from heaven when the Jews wandered in the desert, only Jesus, as the bread of life, is different. Jesus as the bread of life feeds the spirit, not the body, and its life giving properties are not of this world but of the world to come. Jesus as the bread gives eternal life.
In the final verse the gospel writers link the bread which Jesus represents with the cult of animal sacrifice, this is a mistake, wherever it occurs. The cult of animal sacrifice, bloodletting, killing, it has no redemptive value in and of itself. There is no magic in it, God, the creator of the universe does not savor the scent of burning flesh.
The bread that Jesus offers is not his flesh, it is his teaching, the presentation of the way, a mode of being that leads to a society of justice, one that is tempered by law, and seeks the good of every individual.
To eat the bread of life, is to incorporate this teaching into your own life, for your benefit, and for the benefit of everyone.
When the gospel writers get bogged down in the vain effort to prove the authority of Jesus, by appealing to his sonship, instead of the simple authority of his teaching, they are on the wrong track.
The authority of Jesus is measured by its truthful commitment to his community, to compassion and to mercy.
Do not pay attention to the excuse making the gospel writers often engage in. When they tell you that no one come to Jesus except by the will of God, they are making justifying their failure to effectively communicate the real message in Jesus ministry:
That God love you, and us, and we, all together, and that to serve God, we must do the same.
Anyone Who Eats this Bread Will Live Forever
The Jews were complaining to each other about Jesus, because he had said, ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven.’ ‘Surely this is Jesus son of Joseph’ they said. ‘We know his father and mother. How can he now say, “I have come down from heaven”?’
Jesus said in reply, ‘Stop complaining to each other. ‘No one can come to me unless he is drawn by the Father who sent me, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets:
They will all be taught by God, and to hear the teaching of the Father, and learn from it,
is to come to me. Not that anybody has seen the Father, except the one who comes from God: he has seen the Father.
I tell you most solemnly, everybody who believes has eternal life. ‘I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the desert and they are dead; but this is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that a man may eat it and not die. I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world.’
19th Sunday in Ordinary Time