Gospel of John 6:24-35
I am the bread of life
When the people saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into boats and crossed to Capernaum to look for Jesus. When they found him on the other side, they said to him, ‘Rabbi, when did you come here?’
‘I tell you most solemnly,
you are not looking for me because you have seen the signs
but because you had all the bread you wanted to eat.
Do not work for food that cannot last,
but work for food that endures to eternal life,
the kind of food the Son of Man is offering you,
for on him the Father, God himself, has set his seal.’
Then they said to him, ‘What must we do if we are to do the works that God wants?’ Jesus gave them this answer, ‘This is working for God: you must believe in the one he has sent.’ So they said, ‘What sign will you give to show us that we should believe in you? What work will you do? Our fathers had manna to eat in the desert; as scripture says: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ Jesus answered:
‘I tell you most solemnly,
it was not Moses who gave you bread from heaven,
it is my Father who gives you the bread from heaven,
the true bread;
for the bread of God
is that which comes down from heaven
and gives life to the world.’
‘Sir,’ they said ‘give us that bread always.’ Jesus answered:
‘I am the bread of life.
Those who come to me will never be hungry;
those who believe in me will never thirst.’
As Jesus teaches his followers that the work of God is indeed faith in himself, I am struck by his explanation. Here, it is to reinterpret with further wisdom a story that they would have known well (in this Gospel it is the ancient story of manna in the wilderness).
After pondering this, I consider the question: in today’s context, how can we reinterpret western christian tradition with further wisdom in order to desire the deeper things of God?
Recently I have been reading ‘Anaditj’ by Reverend Aunty Dr Denise Champion. She writes that
“for Aboriginal people our oral knowledge and presentation of Creator in our stories enables us to go back before historical timelines. There’s a much older story that has stood the test of time in this land. Echoes of familiarity: I recognise the story that’s told in the Bible because I’ve heard it somewhere before. It’s the echo of the much older story, of the universal Christ and the birth of the universal church.”
Jesus’ way is to continually reinterpret tradition. In order to stay relevant and to receive Wisdom that is the bread of life.
Similarly, it follows that today there is a deepening awareness that we need to reinterpret Western Christian gospel with indigenous wisdom, otherwise we are not just missing out but we are incomplete.
I think that to sit at the feet our our Indigenous elders like Aunty Denise and listen, is an urgent call for all people as well as a very generous invitation by our Indigenous elders not only in Australia but around the whole world.
Anaditj (The way things are) by Denise Champion 2021, Published by Denise Champion c/-Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress. Elizabeth Terrace Port Augusta SA Australia.