A Hard Teaching

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

“The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are 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 it, 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 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 that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:60-69)

Reflection

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. 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 . . .”

Who indeed could understand the Divine Message unless God Himself was the One separating the grain from the chaff? Jesus said: “As I have told you, no one can come to Me unless it is granted by the Father.” (John 6:65) How many times had we been confused by what we tried to understand in the Holy Bible before our renewal? How many times have we questioned the doctrines of our Church when we could not agree with its “outdated” doctrines? And how many so-called enlightened Catholics have left their Church or community, simply because they found some teachings “intolerable language”, or because they did not have the humility of a great servant like St. Peter, to accept the things he could not understand, but believed none the less because of faith? Lest we forget, we did not make the choice; it was God’s initiative that we are here.

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! Amen.

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