|by Angela Lambert|
August 23rd, 2015; 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
Gospel of John 6:60-69 NAB
Many of Jesus’ disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?”
Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life.
But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.” As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”
The psalmist exhorts us to “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord” (Psalm 34). He does not say, “see then taste”. Rather than requiring scientific evidence to support the miracle of the Eucharist before receiving it, Christ pleads with us to believe in Him and receive the Eucharist after which we will see its power to give life. Belief in the Eucharist should not be predicated upon whether it satisfies our natural reason or whether or not we feel like it. Instead, Christ’s word alone, His teaching as Lord and Savior of the world forms the basis for belief in the supernatural miracle of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Because of its supernatural quality, it necessarily exceeds our natural experience and reasoning. This makes it difficult for any person to believe in such a transformation based on merely human experience.
The Catechism discusses this common problem, writing:
|“The first announcement of the Eucharist divided the disciples, just as the announcement of the Passion scandalized them: ‘This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?’ (Jn 6:60) The Eucharist and the Cross are stumbling blocks. It is the same mystery and it never ceases to be an occasion of division. ‘Will you also go away?’ (Jn 6:61): The Lord’s question echoes through the ages, as a loving invitation to discover that only He has ‘the words of eternal life’ (Jn 6:68) and that to receive in faith the gift of His Eucharist is to receive the Lord Himself.”|
In this passage the followers of Christ divide between those who “returned to their former way of life” where their faith wasn’t challenged and those who, with Peter, can only say “We have come to believe and are convinced that You are the Holy one of God.” The passage seems to indicate that everyone present experienced confusion and found Christ’s teaching difficult to accept. Many of us share this same experience. We follow Christ and marvel at His actions in our life. Then we come to a point where one of His teachings, whether in Scripture or through His Church, seems too difficult. We are tempted to rationalize that no one could really believe it and then go on living as we were. Christ challenges us to respond instead like Peter by putting our trust in Him. If we are convinced that Jesus is the Christ, then we should be convinced that everything He says and promises is true.
- What makes you convinced that Jesus is God and Savior? Are you convinced?
- What teaching of Christ do you struggle with the most? Do you follow Christ always or only when it makes sense to your natural reason?
- Which is more reliable – Christ’s wisdom or your own? Why?
- Do you find it hard to believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist? If yes, why? If no, why not? If you have a deep belief in the Eucharist, consider how you might share that belief with someone else. Pray for a providential moment.
Make a Resolution (Practical Application):
- Faith is a gift. Pray each day this week for an increase in the gift of faith. You could share the prayer of the man in Mark 9:24 who said to Christ, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.”
- Make an effort to deepen your belief in the Eucharist. Spend time praying at Church or adoration, go to a daily Mass, read about the Eucharist in the Catechism (http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p2s2c1a3.htm), read John 6 again, read about Eucharistic miracles. Ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten your mind and heart.
~ Written by Angela Lambert © 2015
|* These Sunday meditations are intended to engage the heart and imagination in prayer and include a practical application (resolutions) to your daily life. In our presentation on prayer I offer a more detailed discussion of ways to pray with Scripture that can take 5 minutes, 15 minutes, or half an hour and vary in depth depending on your time-frame and prayer goals.|