Proverbs 9:3-6; Ephesians 5:15-20; John 6:51-58
This is the fourth Sunday in a row that we’ve been celebrating Chapter Six of John’s Gospel and we are at a breaking point.
At first, the crowd he had miraculously fed with a few loaves and fishes were about to make Jesus their king. Now the same people are quarreling among themselves over what Jesus has been saying to them. This is the fickle psychology of a crowd: we build people up to tear them down, hiding ourselves in the anonymity of a crowd.
What might have happened could have been quite different. People could have seen that in a desert place Jesus had provided them with a meal–a communal meal, not a hand-out–inviting an unrelated collection of individuals to become guests at a feast. They could have been united as a family of faith, recognizing God’s hospitality in an unlikely place. They might have discovered their common hunger as their common ground, recognized in the grace of being fed. Would they then have been saying, “Show us a sign”?
They may have seen this prodigal generosity as the flesh and blood, the very stuff of Jesus’ presence among them, rather than quibbling over what he meant by eating his flesh and drinking his blood.
But to do any of that, I have to step out of the safety of the undefined crowd–not to become the rugged individual beholden to no one. Just the opposite: forsaking the anonymity of the crowd demands that I enter the interdependence of a human community which I must will to do.
As part of the crowd, I’m carried along–I don’t have to will anything, I don’t have to take any responsibility. I’m handed ready-made slogans and just go along with everyone else. To form a community I must choose to take the first step, I must trim back my own desires, take responsibility, make sacrifices for the common good.
In a very real sense, that is how I recognize the Body and Blood of the Lord, how I take it into myself, am incorporated into that same Body and Blood.