The food that endures

Spare a thought for the people of Zimbabwe.  It was so difficult to hold it all together.  Everyone had high hopes for the elections and their hopes ran faster to the tomb of 37 years of disappointment than the reality that soon caught up.  Six people died.  For their families it must be almost unbearable.  Our politics is so wrapped up in our hopes. We are so identified with our expectations.  Our leaders seem the only ones who can unlock the future and satisfy the longings of millions.

It seems such a battle to get things right.  The desire to put my private interest before the public good is powerful.  That basic trust – that I will benefit, in the most profound sense, if everyone benefits – gets lost under the pressure of competition.  In our hearts we know we will never build “community” – that word we use so lightly – until we stand back and make room for others.

“Populism” is a new word for tribalism and tribalism is all about securing the survival of my group with little concern for others.  Listening to the words of populist leaders in the “developed” world sounds alarmingly like hearing old tribal voices.  It is so hard for us to get it right.

The core message that comes out of John’s gospel this Sunday is that God is ready to fulfil our efforts to achieve community if we allow him to do so.  This is easily said, but it calls us to be really open to his coming into our lives so that we “get it right”.  He offers help and invites us to “seek the food that endures.”  The sixth chapter of John’s gospel is about “the bread of life” and we read this as John’s way of presenting us with the Eucharist. But the Eucharist is not a medicine that does its job automatically, like a Panadol. It requires our active urgent welcome.  It takes up the deepest desires of our heart and empowers them.  It helps us to do what we dream to do, what we want to do when we are in touch with our basic and most fundamental yearning.

That yearning is for something beyond us, which the believer calls union with God, but it also includes union with our brothers and sisters and the whole planet.  This may all sound far removed from the elections in Zimbabwe but it isn’t.  ‘Politics’ is the word we use for the whole process we have for building community, where each one has enough to eat, a place to live, the ability to work and provide for their family.  The Eucharist is all about providing the means to achieve these things.

5 August 2018                         Sunday 18 B

Exodus 16:2-4, 12-15              Ephesians 4:17, 20-24                         John 6:24-35

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