Roc Homily – Seventeenth Sunday Ordinary Time 2015
“The Bread of Life Discourse I” – Since I was in Dallas, TX for a wedding this weekend, I will write out, “What I would have said…” mainly because it began the 5 week session of readings from John chapter 6 – “The Bread of Life.” I’d like to post for each Sunday to record some new insights into it all. Please, take what you need and leave the rest.
Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (“What I would have said…”)
Homily by Roc O’Connor, SJ, associate pastor of the Church of the Gesu (July 26, 2015)
John 6:1-15 When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.” So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat.
When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, “This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.” Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain alone.
This whole episode takes place in the wilderness. Jesus fed the crowds who followed him and provoked a powerful response in them: “Let’s make him king!” This is the first temptation in the wilderness of the crowd. (Implied) hunger in the crowd and their subsequent feeding led them to want to make Jesus their king, an idol, a mechanical feeding machine so they wouldn’t have to be hungry anymore. (We see Jesus as king only on the cross, recall.)
This first temptation is a Rorschach / ink-blot text that revealed their inner demand that someone, something outside themselves keep them from feeling hungry. Moreno, it revealed the effects of their hunger that skewed their perception of Jesus.
OK, then. What are your hungers and how are they expressed? Think existential, emotional hungers – insecurity, fear, anxiety, inadequacy, unworthiness, loneliness… How do you/we/I express these? Usually by overdoing it. Over-shopping, eating, drinking, sexing, drugging, numbing, video gaming, raging, religioning, depending, etc… These expressions of the effects of our hunger point to both our temptations in the wilderness. Can we begin to recognize ways that our hungers – whatever profound loneliness and emptiness – shape and distort our perceptions of God, of Jesus, of the Spirit?
What’s important about that question is that the major teaching Jesus does is addressed to US in this situation. The Bread of Life Discourse is not simply a treatise on Eucharistic theology. It’s addressed to us in the very hungers, the profound vulnerability we all try to avoid and all do our level best to fill up.
Thus, the gospel situates us in a difficult place before God. As we move into the Eucharistic Liturgy, what is it like to give thanks to God who meets us in our inner recesses?