meet quarterly close to the solstice and equinox.
Year B, Proper 13
Episcopal (Standard) Lectionary Revised
John 6: 24-35
when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples
were there, they themselves got into the boats and went
to Capernaum looking for Jesus.
When they found him on the other
side of the lake, they said to him, Rabbi, when
did you come here? Jesus answered them, Very
truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because
you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.
Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food
that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will
give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set
his seal. Then they said to him, What must
we do to perform the works of God? Jesus answered
them, This is the work of God, that you believe
in him whom he has sent. So they said to him, What
sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see
it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our
ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written,
He gave them bread from heaven to eat.
Then Jesus said to them, Very truly, I tell you,
it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but
it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven.
For the bread of God is that which* comes down from heaven
and gives life to the world. They said to him, Sir,
give us this bread always.
Jesus said to them, I am the
bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry,
and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
Reflection on John 6: 24-35
by John G. Gibbs, PhD
Readings in the Gospel according
to Mark (Propers 1-12, 17-28, Episcopal Standard Lectionary)
are here interrupted by 4 readings from John 6 (Propers 13-16).
A superb guide into the sacramental territory of John 6 is William
Temple’s Readings in St. John’s Gospel (London: Macmillan,
1952 reprint of 1945).
According to Temple, the eucharistic
teaching of the Fourth Gospel (which never mentions the Institution
of the Eucharist) comes to clearest expression in the image
of the True Vine (John 15), which brings to mind the wine. On
the other hand, for John as for Mark what matters most in the
Bread imagery is our feeding upon Christ, “so receiving and
assimilating Him that He becomes our very life” (Readings, p.
That life, moreover, is not
confined to the “Real Presence” in the Eucharist, for: “The
Word of God is everywhere present and active” (p. 81). What
we offer at the Offertory is bread and wine, which are already
full of symbolic meaning as “the gift of God rendered serviceable
by the labour of man…” While deep reverence is due to that means
of grace, the sacrament is not a matter of magic or materialism.
As Temple comments: “…it is very easy to confine our reverence
when we ought to extend it, and to concentrate it only on this
focal manifestation of the divine Presence, instead of seeking
that Presence and Activity also in the Church, which itself
is called the Body of Christ, and in all the world which came
to be through Him (i, 3)” (pp. 81-82).
What has most claimed my attention
in 6:24-35 is “the bread” that conjoins heaven and world:
“For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and
gives life to the world” (v. 33). What turns bread and wine
into the sacrament is the Incarnation, which was a movement
down from heaven that brought into worldly affairs that different
quality of “life” that we call “eternal.” The “food” that really
sustains us and that “endures” in us toward the different quality
of life that Jesus incarnated, is something that comes to us
as a gift from God (v. 32).
To Reflections on other Readings for Year B, Proper
Gibbs, PhD, a retired theologian, resided in Park Rapids,
MN, when he originally wrote this reflection in 2003. He and
we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional
reflections to John
Gibbs or any MEESC
member, or mail them to:
c/o C. Morello
4451 Lakeside Drive
Eveleth, MN 55743-4400 USA
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