Kindly remember our community in your prayers this week as we engage in prayer and participation in our annual community planning days.
Our 2021-2027 directional goals (here summarized) will guide us:
- be an authentic contemporary Benedictine community attentive to relationships within community and beyond.
- will work to increase awareness of our community and invite others to share in our vision and mission.
- will use the Restructuring Process we designed to discern how viable our future is as a community.
- we will intentionally work to insure our economic and environmental sustainability.
“I AM the BREAD of LIFE”
I think we probably could all agree that the Gospel of John can be difficult to understand. So we can’t blame Jesus’ critics who are confused and ask for a sign when he says, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”
This incident happened the day after the feeding of the 5000. The crowd followed Jesus to a new location and were joined by many more curiosity seekers. Remember, when John speaks of “the Jews” he is referring to a class of people: the religious authorities, the religious insiders of the day. It is to this mixed group of people Jesus begins to explain the loaves and fish.
He gets pretty direct with them: “I am the bread of life.” This makes the Jews – the religious insiders – angry. Now, Benedict would tell them, “Don’t murmur.” Their mothers might say “Stop your whining!” Jesus lays it on the line, “Do not complain among yourselves.” But, do they go directly to Jesus with their questions? (Do you go directly to the source with your questions?) No, they do what is fairly common (even in our house). They go to one another and begin complaining, grumbling, and murmuring. “Can you believe what he said? Who does she think she is? Where does she come up with that stuff? Who gave her the right to change the schedule?” And, the assignment of motivation for the person’s actions – well, all you can do is chuckle when you overhear another’s explanation about why you did something. “You know why she did or said that?” Like the Jews who were sure Jesus was the son of Joseph, so how could he be the Son of God?
The people were partially right – they did know Jesus. But they only knew him through historical facts. Now, we need to know the facts but too often the facts, the other’s history – and we are so sure we know all the pieces – about Jesus, about other persons, even ourselves. But what little we know can be used to limit possibilities. You can almost hear the Jews saying, (sometimes it’s our refrain, too) “We’ve never done it like this before.” It is both amazing and sad that it is the Jews, the religious insiders, who do this. They go to the synagogue, say their prayers, keep the fasts and dietary laws and try to live faithfully. And yet they have a habit of accepting only historical knowledge. Doing this limits not just our understanding – it also narrows our world, closing us to wonderful possibilities, great opportunities and enriching relationships.
The Spirit calls to us “A feast of life has been prepared for you. The table is full, ready and waiting. God is drawing, pulling, wooing, and loving you to the table.” This sentiment is expressed in many of our Communion hymns such as: “We Come to Your Feast,” “Remember Me,” “Table of Plenty,” “One Communion of Love.”
Sometimes the history of our fears, regrets, pain, and losses become so established we are deceived into believing that we are not even hungry for new relationships, for the Bread of Life. Maybe it’s a history of things done or left undone – or words said or affirmations left unsaid. Perhaps we have a history of a particular way of thinking, believing, seeing the world, each other or ourselves. You know the saying: Insanity is when you keep doing the same thing, the same way and expect a different result.
Jesus teaches us how to focus on the heart of the issue. He says, “No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me …” Here Jesus reminds us that it is an act of God that in the first place brought us to the table and continues to gift us with the power to risk entering into the Christian life, into monastic life. The God-image, PAPA, in THE SHACK movie – says to Mack: “Faith does not grow in the house of certainty – faith is a risk. The good news is that God is willing to be present and teach us.”
So, let us be a people who dare the risk, and enjoy the daily privilege to respond to and consume the Bread of Life. Remember, faith is a verb, not a noun … it is a way of life. It’s not a once and forever thing – it needs to be nourished at the Table. Let us share in the joys and challenges of being the Body of Christ for a hungry world, and drink for those who thirst for justice, peace, fullness of life, and even eternal life.
~Reflection by Sister Roberta Bailey, OSB, Prioress