Sermon, August 5

Gospel of 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 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.
+ + + + + + + + + + + +
My Friday afternoon began with the ringing of our doorbell. I opened
our front door to be greeted by an enthusiastic young man in his early 20’s.
As I straddled the doorstep, he introduced himself. With a chuckle,
the young man assured me that he was not a solicitor for a particular
religious organization.

His speech was sprinkled with delightful humor, direct eye contact
and an easiness that clearly breaks down barriers. I stepped onto the front
porch. Kenny told me about the group he proudly works for and represents,
America’s Youth. He shared a bit of his background as a former 3 rd
generation gang member on the streets of LA. His current job rescued him
from the only life he knew. It has provided him opportunity to work in a
respectable sales position that offers personal development, tools for career
building and realistic possibilities for a good future.
His face radiated as he told of calling his ‘homeboys’, telling them his
adventures while traveling throughout the United States. And he proudly
added that he encourages them to take opportunities to escape the deception,
terror and trappings of LA’s streets.
When he got to the part of selling me a cleaning product, I’d already
made my decision to support this young man’s endeavors.
I gave him a bottle of water and a peanut butter & chocolate chip
cookie before getting my checkbook. He was grateful.
After the sale, we continued our conversation, mostly one sided. I
told him that I was a parish priest. That knowledge gave him impetus to ask
a question he obviously
wanted to answer himself: ”Do you know that racism isn’t the issue in
America?” He quickly added: “The issue is not racism, the issue is
Kenny explained. People are people. We all want the same things
and think the same things. But stupidity convinces a person that
their group is different and better than another group. He went on with
sincerity in his eyes

and conviction in his voice: we all want to be safe and have a home, we all
want to belong and acquire nice things, we all want a good life.
Our conversation continued awhile longer. I appreciate his
perspective, one I would have never heard if I hadn’t answered the door.
He apologized for taking up so much of my time. But I didn’t see it
that way. It was a pleasure meeting, Kenny. It won’t be soon that I forget
The Gospel according to John is a composite of stories, seasoned with
community experience and political realities. John’s Gospel clearly presents
Jesus as God’s incarnate Son.
In this Gospel, there are 7 “I am” statements. In the original Greek
there is no need to include the “I am” because the verb clarifies the personal
pronoun. Yet, in John’s Gospel, the Greek word ‘ego’ is used.
This way of speaking and writing connects Jesus with the ‘I AM’ of the
Hebrew tradition, the One true God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses.
These “I am” statements reveal the character of God made present in Jesus.
These statements were shocking to Jesus’ contemporaries. They were
meant to be. Jesus roused those listening to him in order to invite them
beyond their day to day concerns into another level of thinking and living.
We’re told in the reading that some of the
5,000 people who feasted on Jesus’ miracle of 5 barley loaves and two fish
were after him to provide more food. St. Chrysostom wrote: “Humanity is
nailed to the things of this life.”

Jesus shocked the crowd by saying: ‘Don’t seek after the food that doesn’t
satisfy, seek the bread that lasts and provides the life God desires you to
And, then the most shocking words of all: “I am the bread of life.
Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me
will never be thirsty.”
Ingesting what Jesus Christ offers gives life. It’s not just about us
receiving Holy Communion, which we believe to be the Body and Blood of
Christ. It’s about us ingesting everything Jesus teaches and stands for –
love, justice, peace, mercy, compassion, forgiveness and joy. It’s about
taking into our body, mind and soul the reality that Jesus reveals God and
offers a quality of living connected directly to God. For when we take in
Jesus, we take in the One Eternal true God
of all.
Kenny, was right. People want their appetites filled, sometimes with
food and sometimes with material goods. Beyond these things, people
desire other things, much deeper things. People want to feel safe, we all
want to feel a sense of belonging, we all want to be understood, we all want
a good life.
Jesus redirected the conversation with the pursuing crowd to the
deeper things we naturally crave. Jesus is not being arrogant when he tells
us that he provides the deeper things. Jesus is simply stating who he is – I
AM. He offers welcome into God’s quality
of living and a relationship with God, called eternal life.

I think it does us well to remember that all people – no matter our
surface differences – share significant similarities. We all have needs,
including food, shelter, health care, and we all want to acquire nice things.

On a deeper level, we all desire to feel safe, to belong, to be understood, and
to have a good life.
God provides the only satisfying response to those deeper human
longings. God provides for us through Christ Jesus. Christ is the food that
satisfies and gives a quality of life like no other: life that rises above the
trappings of this world and provides countless encounters with God, life that
yields awareness of our profound connection one with another and God, life
that invites us into the goodness and joy of God right here, right now, life
that has no boundaries of time or space, life that saturates us with meaning
and love.
Jesus is the bread of life offered for us to receive. Take, eat and live.