Thank you

I thought he was coming to ask me to do something but he wasn’t. He came to say thank you. Why was that a shock? Why does that unsettle me? Somehow it makes me vulnerable.

It softens me; reminds me others want to relate to me as I do to them. If I accept their thanks something happens. A relationship is born or is strengthened. Do I accept it? Or do I walk away? People cry out for contact, for a bond. The worst poverty is to be alone – locked up in my cell. No one to listen. No one to talk to.

John tells us Jesus fed thousands. He doesn’t say they thanked him. They don’t get it. John called Jesus’ acts ‘signs.’ A sign points beyond itself. Here it points to an invitation: will you receive what I have to offer? Jesus calls the food he gave the people the ‘bread of life’. He offers bread but he offers life. It would overflow into something unimaginable.

There are people in the Tokyo Olympics like the Tunisian swimmer in the news today who will rejoice in their victory. They will thank all who helped them get to this peak of achievement. Their joy is a sign. Peaks of achievement are for great athletes and artists but they are also for everyone under the sun They are not just for the few. Everyone who responds with all their heart reaches the peak.

There are widows in Tigray today who weep for themselves and for their children. Their life is a misery. God is weeping with them. Those who have caused their weeping have not tasted the bread of life. They are stuck. This is terrible, tragic. They cannot say ‘thank you’ to life. ‘When will we ever learn?’ as Joan Baez used to sing.

The early Christians knew from day one that the Eucharist was central to their new way of life. The word means ‘Thank you’. It is our thanks to God. For what? For the relationship that heals and gives life. It is always offered even if I and my family are torn apart by conflict.

Twelve baskets were left over. This is also mentioned in the Elisha reading from 2 Kings. Another sign, a sign of abundance. Life simply overflowing – like Victoria Falls at its fullest – that is God’s gift. Can we say, ‘Thank you’ with all that that means?

25 July 2021               Sunday 17B         2 Kings 4:42-44     Eph 4:1-6        John 6:1-15

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