A Question of Fidelity

John 6: 60-69
Acts 9:31-42 / Ps 116

‘Do you also wish to go away?’
(John 6:68)

Tho’ God’s ways lie beyond our ken,
Tho’ His words are hard to comprehend,
Trust that we will see the truth when
Everything unravels in the end.

Many of the disciples who heard Jesus’ discourse on the Bread of Life said, ‘This teaching is hard; who can accept it?’ But Jesus, being aware that His disciples were complaining about it, said to them, ‘Does this offend you? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But among you there are some who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones who did not believe, and who was 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 by the Father.’ Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with Him. So Jesus asked the twelve, ‘Do you also wish to go away?’ Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe that you are the Holy One of God.’

Reflection

Jesus had two important reasons for speaking in words that none of His disciples could understand. First, He was actually prophesying the transubstantiation of the Holy Eucharist, in which future generations would eat to gain eternal life. His words in John 6:54-55 are enough proof that the bread and wine in the Eucharist are truly changed into His Flesh and Blood. If He was merely speaking figuratively, (as Protestants claim) wouldn’t He have told His disciples not to take Him literally to prevent them from leaving en masse? And Jesus’ Words were meant for all future generations of Christians.

The second reason why His teaching seemed “impossible to understand” was because Jesus was “separating the chaff from the grain.” He was testing who among His followers had total faith and trust in Him. Once He had proven their fidelity, He would reveal the meaning of His words when He broke bread with them for the last time before His death (Lk.22:19- 20) : “This is my body which will be given up for you . . .”

Remaining steadfast in our faith, and trusting that God will see us through when we are undergoing trials and severe difficulties is the essence of fidelity. We have heard the phrase “fairweather friends” before, and can relate it to John’s Gospel. The Jews followed Jesus because they were fed and healed. But just because they could not understand His message, they opted to turn back and no longer followed Him. Many have left the Church and turned to other faiths just because they were disillusioned with a bishop or parish priest. How far are we willing to go with Jesus? How often do we read our Bible in order to understand the meaning of His words? How often do we receive Him in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist in order to become closer to Him?

Lord God, teach us to discern what lies beyond the realm of our understanding. Like St. Peter, grant us the wisdom to seek You, Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Indeed, where else could we go in this fleeting, temporal existence? Only You have the words of eternal life! Amen.

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