Weekly Bible Reflection
Mark's Alternative Economy
Ninth Sunday after Trinity
Text: John 6. 35 & 41-51 "A question of Alignment or Orientation "
Begin by using the Bible Study method as outlined
Reflect, individually, for a few moments on people whose lifestyle, values and opinions are, or have been, important to you. Recall, too, any whose leadership you have followed at different times.
What drew you to them? Did they fulfil a need in you?
What did you learn from them? Did they change your life in any way?
Share these reflections with someone else in the group.
A Window on the Text
Eugene Peterson’s translation of this passage in The Message * provides a refreshing perspective on these familiar verses and gives new clarity to the way in which people are drawn to the Source of Life and nurtured. (Quotations in italics are from that translation.)
“He [The Father] draws people to me …” (v44) or, “Every person the Father gives me eventually comes running to me.” (v37)
Jesus points to certain people, whom the Father has already chosen, being people who eventually, almost inevitably, will be drawn to the Son, Jesus, and will respond.
There are echoes here of when he first sent his disciples out into the villages (Mark 6. 1-12) and told them to stay in places where they were made welcome. It is evident, too, in Cornelius (Acts 10) or Lydia (Acts 16). Both contain the vital concept of certain ‘God-called’ people in society being ready to align themselves with Jesus and to welcome his message.
Aligned towards the Son
Those who do align themselves with Jesus will have certain characteristics:
“Anyone who has spent time listening to the Father, really listening and therefore learning, comes to be taught personally – to see it with his own eyes, to hear it with his own ears, from me, since I have it firsthand from the Father.” (6.45)
Jesus’ calling of the first disciples and of Nathaniel (John 1. 35-51) models this pattern. They quickly realise that they have found the Messiah (v41), the one Moses wrote about (v45), and their response is to join up with him (v39).
But not everyone responds in this way.
Aligned against the Son
The Jews started arguing over him: ‘Isn’t this the son of Joseph? Don’t we know his father? …’ (John 6.41)
The ones who think of themselves as God’s chosen people, who have studied The Law, reveal themselves to be aligned against God’s Son. They can see him only in the context of Joseph’s family and are quite unable to comprehend his place within the family of God, as Son, Messiah, the one Moses wrote about.
Nor can they see his commitment to ‘feed’ those who are closest to the Father’s heart, the poor needing the food of acceptance, healing, freedom and sight.
The Message not only affirms the feeding in Eucharistic terms: “I am the Bread - living Bread!” (6.49) It brings out the feeding in practical terms of restoring humans to life in all its fullness. “Only then do I do my work, putting people together, setting them on their feet …” (6.44)
Either way, both ways,
“The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, ever.” (6.35)
* The Message: the Bible in Contemporary Language.
Responding as a community
- How do you feel you have each been drawn by God and aligned to Jesus?
- Can you identify ways in which you have been ‘put back together’ or ‘set on your feet’ by the teaching of Jesus?
- Try to put into words how each of you has been fed - and what it means to you to ‘hunger no more and thirst no more’.
- What part has your discussion group/community played in this?
This could be a good occasion for ‘breaking bread’ together in some way which is appropriate and meaningful to the group:
If the group is in good voice, end by singing ‘I am the bread of Life’ by Susanne Toolan (Complete Mission Praise No 261, Complete Anglican Hymns Old and New No 299)
- Having a shared meal together and sharing bread and wine in that setting
- Arranging an Agapé
- Ending your discussion with a Eucharist.
- A more detailed explanation of the significance of Jesus’ sending his disciples to places where they will be welcomed, see http://www.newway.org.uk/reflections/mark_20090705_32.php
Mark's Alternative Economy - Discussion