Truth is the Bread of Life (John 6:24-35)

The way of Jesus is love for all, including enemies.


“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” — Jesus.

“I am here because I stole something that was never mine to take — precious human life.” — Daniel Hale.

Whistleblower Daniel Hale is feasting on the bread of life. This week’s Gospel has a powerful message, but too often it has been interpreted through a dogmatic, exclusive lens. Like many of Jesus’s statements in John, it has been used as a proof text for Jesus’s divinity and a condition of salvation. But this verse is not about belonging to a particular religion or affirming a particular creed. It’s about trusting in the forgiving, nonviolent love of the crucified and resurrected God.

When Jesus says, “Whoever believes in me,” he isn’t asking for intellectual or emotional assent to any kind of theological doctrine. He is asking us to trust in his all-inclusive, all-forgiving love.

The way of Jesus is love for all, including enemies. It is subverting the Powers that Be in order to go beyond all limits and conditions placed on love, erasing lines between “us” and “them” that divide the world into worldviews, tribes, or nations. Jesus asks us to trust in this boundary-defying love where we find our belonging in the universal Love of God and come to recognize those we had once feared or despised as children of God just like us.

Daniel Hale, who exposed the high civilian casualty rate of the US drone program, partook of the Bread of Life when he repented of his role in killing defenseless individuals as a drone-target identifier for the US military. He has been sentenced to four years in prison for exposing classified documents that show, among other things, how for a 5-month period, 90% of the people killed by drones were not the intended targets. He is being slandered as a threat to national security, when in actuality, he has made us safer by exposing and trying to stop the terrible cycles of violence that drone warfare perpetuates.

Living at war is feasting on the bread of death. We believe that violence toward our enemies will make us safer, when it instead plunges us all into destruction.

The Bread of Life is the love of the forgiving victim. On the cross, Jesus shows us that all harm done in the name of God is actually done to God. When we truly see the humanity of those we harm, when we truly see the image of God reflected in the people we exclude, oppress, fight, or kill, we are shocked out of our violence and into repentance, into a turning around that restructures our world on a foundation of togetherness and love rather than opposition and fear.

Can we see the Bread of Life not only in Jesus, but in the victims of our drone bombings? Can we, like Daniel Hale, take in the truth, feast on the bread of coming to terms with our violence, repenting, and living lives of courageous peacemaking and love?

The Olive

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