Today's reflection on the Daily Texts:
I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. - Ezekiel 34:11 (NIV)
As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, "Follow me." - Mark 1:16-17
Two-year reading texts: Psalm 118:22-29; 2 Samuel 3:1-34; John 6:60-71
I see another interesting connection between Jesus' "Bread of Life Discourse" in John 6 and the verses chosen for today. There is the "shepherding" call to follow, which begins so simply. But Andrew and Simon Peter are also there later, when Jesus speaks at length about the "Bread of Life" and eating his flesh and drinking his blood. There is a decision point, where some of his followers turn away, while others know him well enough to trust that he is the one with the true words of eternal life - and who else could they follow?
Jesus compares himself as the Bread of Life to the manna that sustained God's people through all their years in the wilderness. And of course the people complained about that too! In the same way that manna was the food promised to always be available, and gave exactly the strength and energy needed for the wilderness journey, Jesus seems to be saying that his flesh and blood are the exact right food of spirit and life for the landscape of the flock of disciples who follow him. We are called to a journey that lasts a lifetime and brings challenges and asks us to deny ourselves. On this journey, we're well sustained by eating and drinking of Christ and abiding in him. But "the flesh is useless;" other things we might try to fill ourselves with are unsatisfying, unhealthy, and unable to keep us going.
Thank you God, for not only calling us to follow you, but for committing yourself to full, forever care for us. Help us to abide in you, and be strengthened by your flesh and blood, and guided by your words of Spirit and life. Keep us from useless things, and keep us sustained by the food that comes only from you.