Many preachers, facing the summer lectionary in Year B, ask why there are five weeks of John 6. The simplest answer is that the first draft of this three-year lectionary was designed by Roman Catholics, who treasure this chapter and enact it in their daily Eucharist. Subsequent revisions of the lectionary sought to keep at least the Gospel readings untouched.
In last week’s gospel
reading and this one, a picture of a beleaguered Jesus emerges: he
can’t go anywhere without being mobbed. The crowds hunt him down; they
even demand to know when he got where he is, as if they have the right
to see his itinerary.
It is the day after Jesus fed the 5,000. The picnic is over and Jesus has taken his disciples to the other side of the lake. But the crowds of people who shared the meal with him yesterday and who then tried to turn him into their king are not about to let him go.
Is leadership, specifically pastoral leadership, a spiritual practice? Dorothy Bass has defined practices as “those shared activities that address fundamental human needs and that, woven together, form a way of life.” Does leadership address a fundamental human need?
As Christians, we are joined together, responsible for one another’s Christian walk and well-being. Paul talks about “one body and one spirit,” so when someone we know is in trouble—some metaphorical fuse is burning in his or her life—we’re there for that person, praying, talking, listening and helping. We “bear with one another in love,” with “humility, gentleness and patience.” Of course, it's easier to describe that kind of fellowship with good religious words than to actually pull it off.