Words of Eternal Life

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

“Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
(John 6:68)

God’s words are far beyond our ken,
His ways so hard to comprehend;
Believe and trust the Lord, my friend,
You will see clearly in the end.

Upon hearing this, 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? Then 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—they are full of the Spirit and 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 them.” From that time on, many of His disciples went away 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 have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:60-69)

Reflection

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 abominable that most of those who heard it were repelled and no longer followed our Lord. To the Jews it must have sounded as if Jesus wanted them to become cannibals at His expense. They must have thought all those signs He had performed and the attention He was getting had driven Him insane. “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 none of His disciples could understand. First, He was actually prophesying the transubstantiation of the bread and wine in the Holy Mass into His Flesh and Blood, and 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 now “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 . . . This is My blood . . .”

We become steadfast in our faith in God when we receive Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist, and when we absorb His Word in the regular meditation of Holy Scriptures. While not belittling the grace and power of the Holy Eucharist, it is also essential that like our Lord we must 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)

How ironic it is that we are asked to spend “only 15 minutes a day” to meditate on the Word of God in the Bible. If we are asked to tithe 10% of our money to God, surely we can also give Him 10% of the day in prayer and reading of the Bible. What is 2.4 hours a day in exchange for eternal life?

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, rather than the pleasurable, the pragmatic, and the popular things in this world. Indeed, in the final analysis, where else could we go in this fleeting, temporal and corruptible existence? Only You have the words of eternal life! Amen.

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