A Question of Fidelity

John 6: 60-69
Acts 9: 31-42 / Ps 116:12-17

Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.
(Luke 6:69)

Though we may fail to understand,
Yet from Your Word we shall not part;
Trust in Your love is our command,
Lord Jesus, dwell here in my heart.

Many of Jesus’ disciples, when they heard Him speak like this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at it, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of man ascending where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you that do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who those were that did not believe, and who it was that would betray him. And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him. Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

Reflection

Most of the Jews who followed Jesus all over Galilee and Samaria did so because of the miracles that He performed; and even if many of them came to believe that He was really sent by God, they were not willing to discard their antiquated traditional forms of worship to follow Him in His New Covenant. Being God, Jesus knew who these ‘hangers on’ were, and was not disappointed by their departure from Him. He was more concerned with the formation of His small group of apostles, whose fidelity (except for one) had been tested and proven true. In fact, Peter’s response reflected the apostles’ general sentiment: the choice was clear, ‘You have the words of eternal life; we have believed, and have come to know, that You are the Holy One of God.’ We see in the first reading how Peter was rewarded for his faith and fidelity to Jesus. He was even given power by the Holy Spirit to raise the dead back to life (Acts 9:41).

In the context of today’s Gospel, we can see why many Catholics leave the Church: they do not have enough trust in the teachings handed down by Jesus through His apostles and the Magisterium of the Church. They do not seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit, or pray for His discernment. Jesus said that it is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh is ultimately useless. Many of us trust too much in our own knowledge and understanding, when in fact it is in faith that we receive the Holy Spirit’s wisdom to understand the ways of God. This is the challenge posed to us as His disciples: whether we will continue to believe in Jesus even if His teaching is hard to accept. This is how God tests our fidelity.

Your ways o Lord are beyond human knowledge, ‘as high as the heavens are above the earth.’ Grant us the grace to believe even if we do not understand, and the hope that in the end our minds and hearts will also be enlightened. We have come to trust in Your words because of the many times You have shown us Your love. Amen.

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