Ordinary Time
Sunday of the Nineteenth Week

Words of THE WORD

εὐαγγελίζω (euaggelizo)
“to announce the Good News of victory in battle”

The Jews murmured (Εγόγγυζον, egogguzon)
about Jesus because he said,
“I am the bread that came down from heaven,”
and they said,
“Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph?
Do we not know his father and mother?
Then how can he say,
‘I have come down from heaven?’”
Jesus answered and said to them,
“Stop murmuring (μὴ γογγύζετε, me gogguzete) among yourselves.””

θεωρέω (theoreo)
(“to perceive, discover, ponder a deeper meaning”)

Perhaps it is a title of an 80’s REM album. Perhaps it describes an aliment of the heart. Perhaps you are a fan of onomatopoeic words. But in this Sunday’s portion of the ‘Bread of Life’ discourse, murmur describes the crowd’s response to Jesus’ continued teaching concerning the meaning of the Sign (the abundant feeding with the loaves and fish) and the pronouncement of His own identity (“I am the Bread of Life”).

γογγύζω (gogguzo), the Greek word translated in to English as murmur, described in the Biblical era, a muffled, low tone, incoherent noise that sounded dissatisfaction without the use of words. It communicated one’s complaint that the other party, for whatever reason, did not live up to perceived expectations. Beyond expressing displeasure, γογγύζω (gogguzo) conveyed an air of entitlement. In fact, what separates Biblical “grumbling” from “murmuring” is that the one murmuring believed she or he was entitled to something from the other. The one murmuring, rightly or wrongly (although in the Gospels is it often wrongly), had a claim on some dimension of another’s life and when that was not realized, murmuring filled the air.

This helps to make some sense as to why, after murmuring, the crowds contended that they had Jesus ‘figured out.’ They readily spouted their ‘knowledge’ of Him in such a way to express a claim that they had on Him as a mere dispenser of bread and fish. In claiming to know Him, attitude of entitlement set up a block in their own lives as to Jesus’ true identity and the meaning of the Sign of the loaves and fish. As is so often the case in the walk with Jesus, if you think you have Him figured out, you don’t … and never will. Saint Augustine expressed it this way, “I know why you do not hunger after this bread and so cannot understand it and do not seek it. “No one can come to me unless the Father who has sent me draws him.” This is the doctrine of grace: none comes unless they are drawn. But whom the Father draws, and whom not, and why he draws one and not another, do not presume to decide if you want to avoid falling into error. Take the doctrine as it is given to you: and, if you are not drawn, pray that you may be.” (Tractates on the Gospel of John, 26)