This weekend we hear about murmuring which is a noun we don’t hear too often in our day. Murmuring is much more than the idle complaints that we often hear, murmuring tends to be more subtle and an ongoing means of tearing down the morale of a workplace or community. It is deep rooted and plants of seeds of discontent that slowly spread to others. We hear of murmuring in the Gospel for this weekend and how Jesus addresses it head on. This gives us an important lesson on living the Gospel in the various communities we are part of, family, parish, work, social, etc.
The Gospel begins by telling us that some of the listeners “murmured” about what Jesus said. They are trying to cast doubts in the minds of others about Jesus and this teaching. They whisper poison in the ears of those around them. First about who Jesus is by questioning his background as a carpenter’s son, someone they have known all his life, insinuating that he is nothing special. Secondly, knowing who he is how could he be “The bread come down from heaven?”
As subdued and private these murmurings might have been, Jesus hears them and directly confronts them with the command, “Stop murmuring among yourselves.” He then goes on to repeat that he is “the bread of life that comes down from heaven”, and he is “the living bread” and If they receive the living bread they shall not die. He adds to it his relationship to God as His Father.
It is interesting that this instruction on murmuring takes place during Jesus’ discourse on the Bread of Life. The Bread of Life, the Eucharist, is meant to be a Sacrament that unites us with God and the Community. Murmuring, on the other hand divides. How beautiful of Jesus to address murmuring during this discourse on Eucharist to show the divisiveness of murmuring and how it can negatively affect the Church. The Bread of Life is meant to unite, murmuring seeks to divide.
This Gospel leads us to the question of whether we find ourselves murmuring. It could be over a particular teaching from the Gospel, a teaching of the Church or an exhortation of the Holy Father that we struggle with. Rather than embrace the need to work at change in our lives, we murmur against the Gospel, the Church and the Pope, and subtly place a negative pall over those around us. We expect God to reform his teaching around what we want to do, rather than for us to reform our lives around the Gospel or teachings of the Church or Pope. Rather than seek to better understand the teachings, we murmur and work at finding a way around it rather than accept the challenges that the teaching gives us, and we criticize the Holy Father and murmur that he is wrong.
Murmuring is divisive and destructive and should be avoided. Those who murmured against Jesus risked separating themselves from him and the gift of salvation. Instead, we should take seriously the teaching of Jesus on the Bread of Life. It is the Eucharist that gives us life and unites us with God and one another. The gift of the Eucharist is the most sacred and powerful gift the Lord has given us and we should call upon the Lord’s presence to be our source of grace and strength. When we gather for the Eucharist we pray in unity in the “grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the love of God our Father, and in the Unity of the Holy Spirit. May our celebration of the Eucharist express the reality in our lives of being united to God and one another.
Father Killian Loch, O.S.B.