Today’s Readings for the Daily Office
Psalm ,71 (Morning)
Psalm 74 (Evening)
As Humbly as Bread
In the sixth chapter of John, Jesus presents a radically rising trajectory of focus and expectation. He starts at the most basic of material needs – bread for physical survival – and continues to raise the stakes and the expectations beyond any of his listeners expectations, and beyond the imaginary capacity of most.
At the beginning of chapter six, Jesus feeds the multitudes with a boy’s offering of five barley loaves and two fish. There is material abundance. The people are pleased. They want to make him king. He wants something better, deeper. The “food that endures to eternal life. …The bread from heaven.”
“I am the bread of life,” he tells them. The whole conversation shifts uncomfortably. “I am” is the Holy Name of God. Jesus identifies with God’s presence within human life. He wants his hearers to do the same.
John uses Eucharistic imagery to raise the expectations. Eat of this bread and taste eternal life. You have life beyond mere material life. You too are the flesh and blood of God.
“This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” It is hard to let the imagination expand to accept these words of spirit and life. God descends into us as humbly as bread. The Spirit carries us into the divine life as mysteriously as resurrection. Jesus is our bridge, our food, our life. For many, it’s too much to accept.
Written by the Rev. Lowell Grisham
Lowell is the retired former Rector of St. Paul’s. He finds his connection with God in community, in Eucharist, and in silent contemplative prayer.