Interrogating the Ways We are Shaped

Lectionary Reading:

John 6:56-71


For this week, we offer space for community reflection on the Gospel reading from the lectionary. This week's Oratio is a continuation from last week with the added concept of being able to question and interrogate both our assumptions, and the church itself in our spiritual journeys. We add the concept of being able to interrogate and question everything; something that makes some uncomfortable - even to the point of, in the story, not following Jesus. 

To begin, Jesus, in this passage, likens a connection to him and a connection to the spirit offered by him, through the physical elements of communion (bread and wine). This connection relates itself similarly to the passage in John 15:5, where Jesus offers the truth that he is the "vine" and we are the "branches". That in our livelihood and ability to be human, there is something deeply tied to this Divinity and call to be sacrificial, communal, and radical - all things we see in Jesus.

We go on to find that Jesus offers this sacrificial, communal, and radical compassion as a choice; it is not a mandate. In reading this passage, which offers challenges in the words Jesus presents (since he says people should "eat my flesh and drink my blood"), we also go back to the idea that Jesus is still not speaking of his literal body and blood. He is speaking about the elements of communion, and the way those within his followers share his sufferings as their sufferings. He is speaking of himself as the fullness and embodiment of Divinity, and as an ultimate sacrifice to end all others - a sacrifice which offers infinite space for grace and truth to abide with and around us. 

Jesus' words in this passage acknowledge that there is no other source for fullness and life; that all the books or advice on how to have a full life, may in fact be temporary fixes for an eternal fulfillment to humanity's longing and seeking. What Jesus offers is an understanding of purpose and hope in the way we embody Divinity, as shown by his own embodiment; by our words, our actions, our communities, our radical message in caring for all people. This is the way of Jesus. 

Ultimately in this passage, if we look at what Jesus was doing, he was turning every traditional standard on its head. He challenged traditional understandings of religion and oneness with God, while also maintaining the integrity of the two highest commands in scripture: loving God, and also loving one another.

Blessings on your reflections this week, friends.

May you find an understanding that the Divine and that the words of Jesus seek your flourishing. Even if it means your church traditions change, or other traditions change. May you be malleable enough for God to challenge or change your norm into something new, while also to holding to the highest commands we find in scripture; to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and to love our neighbor as ourself.

Grace and peace be with you.