That’s Asking a Lot, Jesus

[Jesus said,] “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” – John 6:51

I, well…. Jesus, I do not approve.

The metaphor is… gross.
For me, the living bread
is molding in the back
of my refrigerator.
Whoever eats that bread
may never die because
the penicillin analogues
within it will suffice
to sweep the viruses
and bacilli away.

The metaphor is gross.
Not stopping there, you up
the stakes, from moldy bread
(OK, my imagery) to feast
of cannibals (and that,
my Savior, is entirely on you).
Though not quite two
millennia have passed
with broken bread/Christ’s body,
it’s still a foul thing to say.

The metaphor is gross,
not just for what it pictures,
but for what it then demands.
Your flesh, our bread? Then you
are what sustains, on you
we must rely, in you we find
our nourishment, in you
we live our life. No wonder they
protested, knowing that you claimed
the place and power of God.

The metaphor is gross,
the message so demanding, that
despite my many years of faith,
despite my years of leadership
within the Church, the gathering
we grossly call your body, I
still hesitate, still wonder: Can
a human body really mediate
for God? Oh, I believe,
but help, I pray, my unbelief.

A poem/prayer based on John 6:51-58, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel Reading for Year B, Proper 15 (20).

The image is Feeding the Multitude by Daniel of Uranc (1433) – photograph by Michel Bakni, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=98280902.

2 thoughts on “That’s Asking a Lot, Jesus

  1. Wonderful take on this. Have you read Richard Rohr’s “Universal Christ” he has a powerful take on just this passage, on the shift from gods eating our sacrifices to God eaten by us for our strength. This reminds me of how I felt when the liturgy was too scant or too grisly.

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