Perseverance and Blind Faith

John 6: 60-69

Acts 9:31-42 / Ps 116:12-17

It is the Spirit that gives life; the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you— they are Spirit and life.
(John 6:63)

His words may be hard to believe,

And His Way harder to follow,

But this life that we chose to live

Leads to a brighter tomorrow.

After hearing this, many of Jesus’ followers 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? It is the Spirit that gives life; the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you—they are 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 returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then asked the Twelve: “Do you also want to leave?” 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

Jesus was speaking figuratively when He said “. . .unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. . .” (John 6:53). What He really meant was that His true disciples must assimilate everything that He was teaching them, living His values and His example, becoming like Christ Himself. To clarify His message, He added, “It is the Spirit that gives life; the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you— they are Spirit and life.” (John 6:63) If only the Jews were more discerning (like Peter), they would have been enlightened by the living words of Jesus, Who was the Word of God made flesh.

The Jews however, could only grumble, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” (6:60), and they decided to leave Him. Jesus may have lost most of His followers because of His “hard teaching”, but He was more concerned with the faith of a few rather than the following of the many. Besides, it confirmed the leadership of His foremost apostle Peter, who said, “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.” (6:69) His inspired words reflected the faith of the apostles and their firm commitment to follow Jesus no matter what happened. They had given up everything for this new life with Him, even if they were not sure where the Lord would lead them. But as we read in the first Reading (Acts 9:31-42), Peter was so empowered by the Holy Spirit that he was able to heal a man who had been paralyzed for eight years, and even brought a dead girl back to life. He had indeed become like his Master himself.

Perhaps it is the nature of our Christian ministry that we cannot foretell the future consequences of our efforts in serving the Lord. The apostles blindly followed Jesus in building up His Church, and in the process, most of them suffered greatly, and even lost their lives for their faith. Like them, but in a much lesser degree, we also may have to face trials, but we have come to believe that we only persevere in proclaiming the Gospel because it is God the Father Who has enabled us, and not of our own will alone. That is why we put our trust in the designs of the Holy Spirit, even though many of our members have “returned to their former way of life” and are no longer active in our community. We persevere because we were chosen.

Lord God, Your words and ways may be hard to understand, but our Savior Jesus has assured us that even though “the gate is narrow and the road constricted that leads to life” (Matt.7:14), the few of us who have taken it You have chosen. Amen.

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