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 desert, and they died. I am the living bread which has come 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

We all need the grace of the Holy Spirit to comprehend what is hidden in Holy Scriptures. The Ethiopian travelling in the desert (first reading) was a learned man, but he could not understand the writings of the prophet Isaiah until Philip, under the power of the Holy Spirit, explained Who the Lamb was that Isaiah was referring to, and then taught the Gentile about the Good News of Jesus Christ. After the eunuch was baptized, the Holy Spirit “spirited” Philip away, and the Ethiopian went on his way rejoicing. (Acts 8:34-39).

The Jews, who did not believe that Jesus was the promised Messiah, could not understand what He was claiming, that He was “the living bread that came down from heaven.” Their problem was that without the Holy Spirit’s guidance, they were taking the words of Jesus too literally. Only the true disciples of Jesus, who had to undergo a mental struggle, suspended their doubts and understanding in order to establish a closer relationship with their Master. For their perseverance, they were eventually enlightened at Pentecost.

For us, the present generation of Christians, to whom Jesus was primarily addressing His message, we have come to understand that partaking of His body and blood simply means receiving Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, and assimilating the Word of God into our life. To become Christ-like, we have to absorb all His teachings and His values that we read about in the Bible.

For those who doubt the authenticity of the bible, it would be a futile effort to try and breach the gap between knowledge and faith. After all, there is a world of difference between knowing and believing. Suffice it to say that most of our questions in this life will only be answered in the next. We cannot deny 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 primary quest in life, not in trying to understand the mysteries that baffle us. When our faith has been fortified, then the truth will be unraveled to us through the power of the Holy Spirit. And once we have received this grace, we will be inspired to share with others the meaning of the teachings of Jesus in the Bible, which we once found difficult to understand.

In the meantime, let us humbly accept what we cannot comprehend as truth, like the Holy Eucharist in the Mass as Jesus Christ Himself, “sent down from heaven.”

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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