Eat with our mouths full . . .
Let me bless the Lord at all times, always his praise is in my mouth.
In the Lord do I glory. Let the lowly hear and rejoice.
Extol the Lord with me, let us exalt His name one and all.
I sought the Lord and He answered me, and from all that I dreaded He saved me.
They looked to Him and they beamed, and their faces were no longer dark.
When the lowly calls, God listens and from all his straits rescues him.
The Lord’s messenger encamps round those who fear Him and sets them free.
Taste and see that the Lord is good, happy is the man who shelters in Him.
Gospel: John 6.35, 41-51
35Jesus said to [the crowd,] “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 41Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43Jesus answered them, “Do not complain among yourselves. 44No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. 45It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. 46Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48I am the bread of life. 49Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
Eat with your mouths full . . .
Growing up, there were certain foods that I liked a lot; and there were foods that I didn’t like a lot. One of the foods that I did not like was bread pudding. Now, growing up, money was tight for my family. My dad was in college, working a full-time job. And my mom was trying hard to manage and feed us without a whole lot of money. So, one way to make us a good dessert was to save all the old, left-over bread, and then make bread pudding out of it. And I didn’t like it at all. I wanted fancier and more expensive desserts; like ice cream, or store-bought stuff like twinkies or ding-dongs or candy bars.
How many of us, growing up, heard from adults, “Eat your vegetables, they’re good for you!” And how many of us, trying to eat vegetables couldn’t understand how anything that tasted like Brussel sprouts or spinach, or cabbage could possibly be any good for us?
But tastes and like can change, can’t they. Now, I love things like Brussel sprouts and spinach; and yes, I know that they are good for us. And I really love bread pudding; not that I could eat it every day, but I so appreciate it now.
Our readings for today are all about eating and tasting food
that is good for us.
The reading from the psalm ends;
“Taste and see that the Lord is good.”
And Jesus says, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. . . 51I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
Not everybody liked the taste of what Jesus was saying.
41Then the Jewish leaders began to complain about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”
Earlier in the story, before Jesus fed the five thousand,
Jesus got himself in trouble with these same authorities when he had the audacity to heal someone on the sabbath.
And in response, Jesus said to them,
“39You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf. 40Yet you refuse to come to me to have life. 41I do not accept glory from human beings. 42But I know that you do not have the love of God in you. 43I have come in my Father's name, and you do not accept me; if another comes in his own name, you will accept him. 44How can you believe when you accept glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the one who alone is God? 45Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; your accuser is Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. 47But if you do not believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?”
We hear Jesus’ response to those gathered around him, and I worry about today’s world; so much of God’s goodness just doesn’t’ seem to taste good to us.
We search for eternal life for when we die, which is good.
But we look at eternal life as some sort of prize we can win,
or something which we can obtain for ourselves. And in the pursuit of winning eternal life, we forget that we are called to live now; that abundant life is not just for ever-after, but for right now. This life; forever and right now, comes from Jesus, not us.
Jesus tells the crowd, “I know that you don’t have the love of God in you.” What about us? Do we have the love of God in us? This love is not just about me and Jesus; but about everyone and everything created by a good and loving God. Like a professor of mine liked to say, “When you invite Jesus to come into your heart, you better make lots of room. Because a whole lot of other people are coming with him.”
Jesus challenges the crowd that they seek glory, not the glory that is God’s, but human glory. This is so like us; we seek glory and power and strength. But we forget that God’s glory is cruciform; it takes the shape of the cross; Jesus’ cross. It does not fit our tastes to see that true glory, is humility and weakness and lowliness. This is just what Paul is getting at in chapter two of his letter to the Philippians:
1If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, 2make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 4Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. 5Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, 6who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, 7but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, 8he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death — even death on a cross. 9Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
I am praying that our tastes change. While other ways of living might be more palatable, we know what the good food is. Recently, I came across this wonderful poem by Malcom Guite:
I Am the Bread of Life
by Malcolm Guite
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.
Where to get bread? An ever-pressing question
That trembles on the lips of anxious mothers,
Bread for their families, bread for all these others;
A whole world on the margin of exhaustion.
And where that hunger has been satisfied
Where to get bread? The question still returns
In our abundance something starves and yearns
We crave fulfillment, crave and are denied.
And then comes One who speaks into our needs
Who opens out the secret hopes we cherish
Whose presence calls our hidden hearts to flourish
Whose words unfold in us like living seeds
Come to me, broken, hungry, incomplete,
I Am the Bread of Life, break Me and eat.
Besides having adults say to you, “Eat your vegetables, they are good for you!” have you ever had people say to you, or, like me, have said this to your own children: “Don’t talk with your mouths full!”
Well, the psalmist writes: “Taste and see that the Lord is good!” And before this, we hear, “Let me bless the Lord at all times, always his praise is in my mouth. . .”
How about this: let’s taste and see that the Lord is good!
Let us experience all that God is, let us live in the love of Jesus! And how about this; let us praise God with our mouths, our souls, our lives full of praise!
Let us continue to talk with our mouths full!
[i] Robert Alter. The Hebrew Bible: Volume 3, The Writings (KETUVIM): A Translations with Commentary. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2019. Pages 93-94.