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 sea, 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. -John 6:24-35
The sisters at Bluestone Farm* joke that their life is really "all about food." But what they mean is that they strive for an intentional, Eucharistic understanding of food. The sisters pay attention to the cycles of life and death, value human fellowship, observe with awe nature's continual self-sacrifice, and contemplating mystery and becoming is part of daily life.
The heart of our participation in the furtherance of the adventure of Life is food.We understand that we arise from and are held within the arms of a Eucharistic Universe; all energy exchange is costly - individual life is given, in part or in whole, in order for other individuals to sustain life for a time.This is a holy, sacrificial and sacramental exhange that we honor and celebrate, and which is clearly reflected in our Christian heritage.
At the same time eating is a joyful experience, suffused with thanksgiving and celebration.As we partake of the great banquet of food offered by Earth, we enjoy the delights of this bounty. - from the Melrose Customary
Jesus offers himself as food.The authors quoted in this week’s quotes each consider this mystery, inviting us to be changed not only in consciousness but in mission.
* The Community of the Holy Spirit is an Episcopal women's monastic order. Bluestone Farm in Brewster, New York is one of their ministries. Bill and I had the privilege of living at the farm/ convent for six years. http://www.chssisters.org/
Detail, The Gathering of Manna, Bernardino Luini, c1520
Meditation One (Introit)
Our Manna Is Christ
What is manna? Is it a Hebrew pun on mah hu, or as Everett Fox suggests, “Whaddayacallit”: What is this stuff? Is manna mountains of sweet insect excrement, as proposed by some scholars, or the stuff of legend, of a tale told over the generations about how, in some mysterious way, God gives us life? The New Testament’s version of this question is “Who is he?” – and Christians have told one another, over the generations, that in some mysterious way he is the life that God gives. Our manna is Christ.
–Gail Ramshaw Christian Century, July 28, 2009
The Gathering of Manna, Bernardino Luini, c 1520, Detail
The Gathering of Manna, Bernardino Luini, c1520
Meditation Two (Insight)
Into Your Yery Bodies
The incarnate Word of God is bread. The Word is already food and drink in the Old Testament, but there the threshold of understanding is lower: the images may be taken as metaphor. Here the metaphor, the symbol, has become a physical reality and even a person. It refuses to be spiritualized or allegorized: I am your food. I have come to be consumed and assimilated: first into your hearts and minds through listening and faith; then into your very bodies which I will transform into my own. …
Jesus is the divine light and life made visible, audible, touchable … and finally ingestible. To “see” him, to listen to his words and believe in him, and thus to feed upon him, is to begin to surrender the boundaries of one’s own consciousness and one’s own being.
-Bruno Barnhart The Good Wine: Reading John from the Center
Meditation Three (Integration)
One early, cloudy morning when I was forty-six, I walked into a church, ate a piece of bread, took a sip of wine. … This was my first communion. It changed everything.
Eating Jesus, as I did that day to my great astonishment, led me against all my expectations to a faith I’d scorned and work I’d never imagined. The mysterious sacrament turned out to be not a symbolic wafer at all but actual food – indeed, the bread of life. In that shocking moment of communion, filled with a deep desire to reach for and become part of a body, I realized that what I’d been doing with my life all along was what I was meant to do: feed people.
-Sara Miles Take This Bread
The Last Word
at the table
Blessed are you Lord, God of all creation. Through your goodness we have this bread to offer, which earth has given and human hands have made. It will become for us the bread of life.