Minnesota Episcopal
Commission (MEESC)

Episcopal Church in Minnesota
Shield of Episcopal Church

Upcoming Activities:

Next Meeting:

We meet quarterly close to the solstice and equinox.

Annual Special Projects


Resolution on the Spirituality of Food Production

Resolution on Church Buildings and Grounds

Resolution on Creation Season

Resolution on Green Congregations



Lectionary Reflection

Year B, Proper 16
Episcopal (Standard) Lectionary – Revised Common Lectionary

John 6: 60-69 [Episcopal (Standard) Lectionary]
John 6: 56-69 [Revised Common Lectionary]

[Begin RCL] Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live for ever.’ He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum.

[Begin Standard Lectionary] When many of his disciples heard it, they said, ‘This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?’ But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, ‘Does this offend you? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But among you there are some who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. And he said, ‘For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.’

Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. So Jesus asked the twelve, ‘Do you also wish to go away?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.’ [End both Lectionary Readings]


Reflection on John 6: 60-69
and John 6: 56-69

by John G. Gibbs, PhD

Biblical texts are seminal in that they typically start conversations rather than end them.  Fundamentalist (and other) attempts to squelch dialogue by “prooftexting” both dishonor the Written Word and deny the real person of the Living Word. The Pontifical Biblical Commission, in its 1993 publication The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church, rightly regards a fundamentalist reading as the most dangerous approach to scripture. [In her commentary on the Fourth Gospel, Teresa Okure, S.H.C.J. of Nigeria discusses ways of reading this gospel. Her contribution is in William R. Farmer (Ed.), The International Bible Commentary: A Catholic and Ecumenical Commentary for the Twenty-First Century (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1998.)]

“The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” That statement, whether from the lips of Jesus or from the writer’s summary of Jesus’ meaning, expresses Jesus’ way of using language. Interacting with those who heard him, Jesus used words to make way for a new “spirit” among them, to open up new possibilities for life in their experiences (both spiritual and physical). Simon Peter got the point: “You have the words of eternal life,” so there’s nowhere else for us to go than to the One who preeminently speaks to us in life-giving ways, and does so incomparably.

During these four Sundays with John 6 we have been in controversial territory that some have mined for sacramental meaning, then many have been in disagreement about that meaning (“in, with, and under,” “transubstantiation,” etc.), and others have found therein no relevance for the Lord’s Supper/Eucharist. Such a text challenges us to allow even biblical words to be “life-giving” rather than life denying. From a Lutheran viewpoint Gerhard Krodel’s expository article on John 6:63 [Interpretation, 37/3 (July 1983), 283-88] contrasts early Swiss Reformed approaches with Martin Luther’s. Both approaches, however, “agreed that John 6:51-59 did not deal with sacramental eating and drinking of Christ’s flesh and blood.  Rather eating and drinking in this section was understood to be a metaphor for believing in Christ” (285). Not literal but spiritual eating and drinking is enjoined, and that is the same as “faith.”

At the same time, as Krodel reports, there is nothing in 6:63 that contradicts sacramental eating and drinking: “‘Spiritual’ eating cannot be limited to the reception of the preached word and should be present at the sacramental meal (LW 38, 238)” (285). We return to William Temple for a balanced statement that is particularly apt for a website that is devoted to “environmental stewardship.” He protests against “a vague religiosity which has no definite and critical moments, no fixed religious practice, no cutting edge”:

“We all know the people who seek to absorb the Spirit of the Creator by contemplation of the beauties of creation – an admirable exercise in itself – instead of anything that could by any stretch of language be called eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the Son of Man. It is vital for our spiritual well-being that we be brought to the point of specific worship, wherein we seek to receive Christ into our souls.” [Readings in St. John’s Gospel, p. 98; London: Macmillan, 1952 reprint of 1945]

Printable version


To Reflections on other Readings for Year B, Proper 16

Reflections available at the active links
Standard (Episcopal) Lectionary
Revised Common
Semi-Continuous Track
Gospel Theme Track
Old Testament
(Hebrew Scripture) Reading:
Joshua 24: 1-2a, 14-25
1 Kings 8: (1, 6, 10-11), 22-30, 41-43
Joshua 24: 1-2a, 14-18
Psalm 16 or
Psalm 34: 15-22
Psalm 84
Psalm 34: 15-22
New Testament Reading:
John 6: 60-69
(this page)
John 6: 56-69
(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:

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

The MEESC assumes that all correspondence received is for publication on this web site. If your comments are not for publication, please so note on your correspondence. The MEESC reserves the right to decide which items are included on the website.


This page last updated 2012-08-29.

This page maintained for the MEESC by Logo of IRIS Enterprises.

Please send any corrections to
the MEESC WebVerger or our Web Team