8TH AUGUST 2021
OFFENDED BY NEW KNOWLEDGE? GIVE IT A TRY.
1 KINGS 19:4-8
For the past two Sunday's, we have read sections of John 6 in which Jesus says, " I am the bread of life. " Today's Gospel passage still from John 6 acts as an explanation of that saying from Jesus that he is the bread of life.
In last Sunday's Gospel reading, the centre of attention was upon Jesus as the gift from the Father for the life of the world when Jesus said, " I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst. "
Building on that claim, this Sunday's Gospel text focuses on Jesus as the centre of faith to which the Father draws people and this is heard in this statement by Jesus, " No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. "
You will easily notice that John 6, including the part we have read today, has a repeated emphasis on who Jesus is, and this repetition is as a result of the crowd not understanding Jesus and making a decision about him.
What do you normally do when people do not understand you and your mission and vision? You will repeatedly try your best to make them understand you. In business and in politics, being clearly understood in terms of core values is very important for success and if we can make seeking understanding an integral part of our faith then that understanding that we seek will make our faith open to newness of that faith itself and to other realities of experiencing God, we won't just be limited to our own knowledge or culture or to the past that is sentimental to us.
This conversation between Jesus and the crowd is getting more and more difficult and confusing because the crowds who in last Sunday's Gospel reading had made much effort to find Jesus after he had crossed the lake began to murmur. Some Bible translations say the crowd began to grumble or to complain based on the difficulty caused by their presumed knowledge of Jesus.
They conclude that he has not come from heaven because they know his parents and the words that he says do not match with his family background. They wonder at the claim by Jesus that he is the answer to their deepest longing and greatest needs.
The claim by Jesus that he is the bread that came down from heaven is an audacious claim. On what do these people base their conclusive murmuring? They base it on their familiarity as their only source of knowledge and understanding?
On what do we base our knowledge, our understanding and our conclusions?
As human beings we get our knowledge from our senses of hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, and touching and even from our own experiences or from what we have been taught but have we ever wondered whether we can get knowledge and make conclusions beyond our senses, beyond our experiences or beyond what we have been taught?
The bone of contention here is that the crowd finds it difficult to accommodate the words of Jesus in which his identity is pegged as the bread which came down from heaven. Do these people know too much or they really do not know enough?
The truth is not found in knowing the human parents who have nurtured Jesus ' childhood. Rather, the truth is found in knowing that Jesus has come from the Father who is in heaven.
The crowds' self assured knowledge stands in their way of seeing the truth. It is possible that we also suffer from the same difficulty of not seeing beyond what we know to be true in relation to our faith, ourselves, the poor,or the rich,to others or even to non catholics.
In order to overcome our self assured knowledge that stands in the place of knowing more, let us remember that Jesus says that it is God the Father who draws people to him.
Being drawn to Jesus by the Father requires us to make a decision about him and his identity and live according to that identity, this brings an understanding of Jesus and even of others whose identity we decide to accept, be it a parent, a teacher, a police officer or even an athlete,a friend or a stranger.
The dialogue or the conversation between Jesus and the crowds gives us the opportunity to have the courage to overturn what we know, see what is beneath and know it and understand it.
If the crowd is offended by trying to reconcile Jesus' heavenly claims with Jesus familiar parents, what will happen when Jesus will tell them later that he is the living bread which came down from heaven and if anyone eats of this bread which is his flesh, he will live forever.