Roman Catholic/Methodist/URC - 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
Anglican - Twelfth Sunday After Pentecost, Proper 16
1 Kings 8:(1,6,10-11), 22-30, 41-43 or Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-18 * Psalm 84 or Psalm 34:15-22 * Ephesians 6:10-20 * John 6:56-69
We are at the end today of the long discourse in John 6, which began with the feeding of the five thousand. This is a difficult passage to discuss ecumenically, as it contains Jesus talking of Himself as the living bread come down from Heaven etc. It is of course John's reference to the Eucharist as he doesn't include the institution narrative in his account of the Last Supper. However because of this it is a passage which people form different denominations will take in different ways. For Catholics it is the justification for the doctrine of transubstantiation, while from a Free Church point of view it would be something completely different. The Eucharist is always going to be one of the most difficult issues for those of use involved in the ecumenical movement. It was this issue after all which caused much of the conflict and break up in the Church during the Reformation, but perhaps because of that it deserves to be such a hotly debated topic and not one which we shy away from. After all it is because of these splits that we are all in different denominations and there is a need to work ecumenically.
However, this is not the place to discuss issues as controversial as this. What today's Gospel passage does tell us is that it is sometimes extremely hard to follow Christ's teaching. In the story, some of those who had been disciples walk away because they cannot accept what Jesus has said. In our work together as Christians from different traditions, there will be times when we will hear others, who we are trying to work with, say things which we cannot stomach. Things which are so alien to what we hold dear or believe that we feel like walking away. That is the wrong thing to do. When working together we need to follow Simon Peter's example and stick it out. We must learn to respect that we will on many issues hold widely different views and beliefs. If we didn't then we would be already "one". Ecumenism is all about being honest with each other and not dumbing down what we hold dear within our own tradition. It’s all about discussing our differences, sometime extremely frankly and not walking away because we don't like what someone else said. Whatever else we disagree on we ALL like Simon Peter are "convinced that [Jesus] is the Holy One of God". Accompanying him and each other is too important for our future and after all "where else would we go?"