In today’s Gospel, Jesus’ statement “I am the living bread that came down from heaven” and his references to “my Father” drew the contempt of the crowd. They thought Jesus was overreaching in calling God “my Father.” They knew his parents and knew that he had come from Nazareth, not heaven! They are unwilling to open themselves to what Walter Brueggemann has called “otherwise” (Testimony of Otherwise). Because of the human need “to control ourselves and our world, we try to establish a fixed, visible, settled ‘given’ that is beyond criticism or reexamination, a ‘given’ that variously partakes of intellectual, socioeconomic, political and believing components.” Once it is established, we protect this “given” by refusing any alternative. But Jesus, like the prophets before him, understood that despite any “given,” God always offers the possibility of “otherwise.”
For example, when Elijah prophesied drought, and famine ensued, he was able, by God’s power, to provide an endless supply of food for a widow and her son. When that son died, Elijah, by God’s power, revived him, offering life as an alternative to death. When his contemporaries were tempted to worship the ba’als, he exposed those false gods as helpless frauds offering the “otherwise” of the one, true God. When all turned a blind eye to King Ahab’s dishonest and immoral dealings, Elijah confronted the king with his sins. He offered the “otherwise” of truth in the face of deception.
Even in more recent years, some among us have kept otherwise before our eyes and imaginations. Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was martyred for his faith in El Salvador, daily confronted an unjust military government with their crimes, all the while calling for peace and justice. Mother Teresa
confronted poverty and disease with love and compassion. Dorothy Day did not fear to speak out on behalf of the disenfranchised and neglected. Nelson Mandela could have been angry and embittered by his 27 years of unjust imprisonment, but chose to forgive. Mohandas Gandhi chose the path of peace and nonresistance rather than violence and war. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream of equality and justice while others clung to hatred, slavery and segregation.
Eschewing bitterness, fury, anger, shouting and all malice, Jesus chose instead the “otherwise” of love, compassion and forgiveness. If we are his disciples, then we witness to that belonging in all we are, in all we do, in all we think, in all we choose. This means going beyond the status quo and thinking outside the expected and acceptable. This means daring to be the unpopular one who listens not to trendy opinion or even to the biggest majority but to God, to Jesus, to the Gospel (Taken from Patricia Sanchez reflection in Celebration).
Cub Scout Pack 4054 will be holding a family picnic and bike rodeo on August 15th, from 10:00 a.m. until noon. Any boys in 1st through 5th grades who are interested in the Cub Scout program, come join us! There will be bike safety discussions and inspections, teaching rules of the road, and obstacle courses to follow. Hot dogs and buns will be provided – just bring drinks for your family and a side dish to share. For more information please contact Tony Harlow (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Paul McCormick (email@example.com). See you there!