The Rev'd Carlos de la Torre
Christ Church, New Haven, Conn.
Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost
August 12, 2018
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The Gospel reading appointed for this week hits close to home. As some of you may know, I grew up an hour’s drive from New Haven, in a small town in the outskirts of New York City, Port Chester, NY. Where for 16 years I lived on West Street, a block away from my childhood parish, Corpus Christi, that is the “Body of Christ,” and across the street from the famous JJ Cassones bakery.
For 16 years, I lived down the road from Corpus Christi and across the street from the bakery. The imagery of bread and the Body of Christ was everywhere. It is impossible for me to listen to this morning’s Gospel passage and not be drawn to a childlike understanding of God. And by childlike understanding, I don’t mean this in any negative form as if it were irrational or undeveloped, but an understanding that is deeply personal and rooted in experience. An understanding that is enraptured by an experience with God, rather than some mental understanding of God.
I remember a seminary classmate’s story in which she recounted a five year old screaming at his mother, “I want the bread from heaven,” as he was brought up to the communion rail for a blessing. This little boy was done with the blessing. He no longer wanted a blessing from the priest but wanted the bread from heaven, the boy wanted Jesus — the living bread.
While we may not shout as that little boy, “I want the bread from heaven,” when we approach the communion rail, I will argue that we share in that childlike desire to hold and have Jesus. A deep feeling rooted in our earliest memories that God has made himself known to us. That God wants to be close to us, and we want to be close to him.
While some of us may no longer tuck at our parent’s shirt to help us receive Jesus in the Sacrament, that childlike desire to simply be close to him has not dissipated. Has it?
This shared desire to be close to Jesus has brought all of us to this place. From various backgrounds, cultures, and ages. We trust and find comfort in the words of Jesus who says, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
While God is able to reveal himself in great and mighty acts, God seeks to reveal himself in bread and wine. For God alone can miraculously provide food for the wandering and hungry, for us today, as he did for the people of Israel, Moses and those in the desert.
But Moses was only able to point to the manna and say, “This is the bread that the Lord has given you for food” (Exodus 16:15), but Jesus points to himself and says, “I am the bread of life… [and] I am the living bread that came down from heaven” (John 6:35,50). Moses points outward, but Jesus point to himself.
Jesus is the living bread that is capable of satisfying our hunger and emptiness. Jesus is the bread that came down from heaven, as the prologue of Saint John’s Gospel proclaims, and he was in the beginning with God. And all things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.
Jesus is the living bread, which not only fulfills our hunger but offers us more then we can handle. Jesus relives our hunger for the living God because in him we meet the living God, made known to us in the flesh.
But Jesus does not only fulfill our hunger but he is able to vanish our gluttony — our hunger for power and control, our hunger to be satisfied and full as those around us beg, our hunger for more than we actually need to survive and prosper. Jesus not only meets our hunger, but challenges the hunger that seeks to fatten us with nothing more than sin and death.
Jesus is the living bread that seeks to satisfy our spiritual hunger and wandering hearts. Jesus is the living bread that seeks to show us the way of love and peace in a world that has forgotten God’s love. Jesus is the living bread that gives us hope in the darkest moments of our lives. Jesus is the living bread that promises that we will not hunger and be left for dead, but that we will be full and raised on that last day. Jesus is enough.
If you don’t believe me, look at the cross. There you will find Jesus, our Lord and our God, stretched out on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of his saving embrace.
Jesus is enough.
Jesus is enough to draw people to him, and our only job is to tell the world of his love and his saving embrace. Our job is to quite literally share the good news of Christ, yes, to evangelize. And don’t be scared by this task, it is not as difficult as some people make it seem. In the words of Pastor D.T Niles, “Evangelism is nothing more than a beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.”
And we have found the living bread. We have touched, felt, and tasted the living bread. In Jesus, we are filled with enough — enough for ourselves and for others. We have been given an abundance not because we need it, but because God desires that we be filled and share the living bread with others. Because God desires to be known to us as the living bread that came down from heaven. God desires to be know in the simple presence of bread.
Thanks be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.