A Matter of Faith

John 6: 44-51
Acts 8:26-40 / Psa 66

Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life.
(John 6:47-48)

If we cannot believe the Word
That the Bread of Life has given,
How can we be worth the reward
Of eternal life in heaven?

“No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.’ ” (John 6:44-51)

Reflection

It was their knowledge of the origin of Jesus – they knew who He was, the son of the carpenter Joseph and Mary – that prevented the Jews from comprehending what He was claiming, that He was “the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat of it and not die.” They thought they knew Him, but only those chosen by the Father were given that privilege. This was the reason why Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me…” All who came to Jesus were drawn to Him by the Father. The magi were drawn to Him by a star from heaven. Then the shepherds came, drawn to Him by a host of angels. Simeon and Anna the prophetess were drawn to Him in the temple by the Holy Spirit. And so was John the Baptist in the river Jordan. All the apostles were drawn to Him by the power of God, as Peter said, “You have the words of eternal life” (Jn 6:68).

When the Jews asked Jesus earlier, “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” His ready answer was, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the One He sent” (Jn.6:28-29). ‘Just believe Me, that’s all it takes,’ He seemed to be saying. Like the Jews in Jesus’ time, we may have to undergo a mental struggle, or even suspend our doubts and human understanding, if we are to enter into a mystical knowledge of God. It’s a futile effort to try and breach the gap between knowledge and faith. There’s a world of difference between knowing and believing. Most of our questions in this life will remain unanswered. We will only find the truth in Jesus Christ, Who is also our Way and our Life. Following the Father’s will through the words of Jesus must be our predominant quest in life, not in trying to understand the mysteries that baffle us. When our faith has been put to the test, then the truth will be revealed to us through the power of the Holy Spirit. In time we will be inspired by the parables and teachings of Jesus in the Bible, which we once found difficult to understand. In the meantime, we must humbly accept that the mysteries we cannot comprehend are the truth, like the Holy Eucharist in the Mass is Jesus Christ Himself, “sent down from heaven”; and His words are our “bread of life”, as when He said, “One does not live on bread alone but from every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Deut.8:3).

Grant me the grace to hold fast to Your Word, Lord Jesus, even if I still do not see the full significance of Your message. Help me believe the words of St. Paul that “at present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.” (1 Cor. 13:12.) Amen.

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