Though His Words Be Hard

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

“The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and Life.”
(John 6: 63)

God’s ways are far beyond our ken,
His words so hard to comprehend;
Just put your trust in Him, my friend,
He will reveal all in the end.

On hearing (Jesus’ teaching), many of His disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray Him. He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.” From this time on many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him. “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6: 60-69)


While teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum, Jesus gave an account of Himself as the “living Bread that came down from heaven” that must be eaten for one to attain eternal life. This teaching sounded so unacceptable that most of those who heard it were repelled. It must have sounded as if Jesus wanted them to become cannibals at his expense. “This teaching is hard; who can accept it?” they said as they walked away. But His disciples held fast and stayed, though they had no idea what the Lord was talking about. They only knew they believed in Him, because He had the words of eternal life, and so must come from God.

Jesus had two important reasons for teaching in a language His disciples could not 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 for us living proof that the bread and wine in the Eucharist are truly changed into His Flesh and Blood. Jesus’ Words were meant for all future generations.

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

We become steadfast in faith when we receive Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist, and absorb His Word in the regular meditation of Holy Scriptures. Along with the grace and power of the Holy Eucharist, it is also essential that we make the Word of God live in our hearts. Jesus knew sacred Scriptures by heart. He said, “The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” (John 6:63)

Lord Jesus, in today’s Gospel You teach us to discern what lies beyond the realm of human understanding. Just because we do not understand Your ways should not make us turn away from You. 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!

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