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Minnesota Episcopal
Environmental
Stewardship
Commission (MEESC)

Episcopal Church in Minnesota
Shield of Episcopal Church

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Lectionary Reflection

Year B, Proper 13
Episcopal (Standard) Lectionary – Revised Common Lectionary
Gospel Reading

John 6: 24-35

So 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. 80).

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). 

Printable version

 

To Reflections on other Readings for Year B, Proper 13

Reflections available at the active links
Standard (Episcopal)
Lectionary
Revised Common
Lectionary
   
Semi-Continuous Track
Gospel Theme Track
Old Testament
(Hebrew Scripture) Reading:
2 Samuel 11: 26 – 12: 13a
Psalm
Psalm 78:1-25 or
Psalm 78: 14-20, 23-25
Psalm 78: 23-29
New Testament Reading:
Ephesians 4: 1-16
Gospel
John 6: 24-35
(this page)
John 6: 24-35
(this page)

John 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:


MEESC
c/o C. Morello
4451 Lakeside Drive
Eveleth, MN 55743-4400 USA

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