Reading Reflections: Twenty-first Sunday Gospel B

By 11:21 AM


Many of Jesus’ disciples who were listening said: “This saying is hard, who can accept it.”

·         “This saying” was the teaching of Jesus in the last two Sundays’ Gospel readings concerning his gift of his body and blood as food and drink leading to eternal life.           

·         Notice those who were having a hard time accepting this teaching of Jesus were disciples—that is some of the very ones who had committed to walk and learn from him. 

            Earlier, it was the Jews in general who followed Jesus after the multiplication of the loaves                and fish.

·         What does that say to you?   

Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?  It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.”

·         Though they had been disciples following Jesus, they had not yet made that final faith commitment in him. Are you an uncommitted disciple or a “no-turning back” disciple?        

·         What does Jesus mean when he says: “What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending…”? They couldn’t believe his word because they couldn’t see him beyond the fact that he was a man just like them. They were not open to the fact that he was more than what they saw and thus more than what they could understand. His words do not make sense if he is no more than a man, if he is not also the Son of God.      

·         What is the role of the Spirit is this? Our human knowledge without the gift of understanding by the Spirit cannot comprehend or accept the mystery of the gift of Jesus’ Body and Blood as food for our journey. From the Spirit comes the gift of faith that empowers us to accept in faith this gift of Jesus.      

Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him.

·         How did Jesus know this? Over the period of time and in prayer he was discerning (gift of the Spirit) who was going to continue to walk with him and who was going to betray him.  

  And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.” As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.

·         Do we know people who have done this even among our acquaintances? How do we react to their decision?   

·         Notice Jesus didn’t try to stop them or to explain the mystery any further to them. No one can be forced to accept and believe. It must be a free choice. 

·         Even today, our understanding and acceptance of the Eucharist divides us from others who cannot accept the reality of Jesus’ words.      

Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?”  Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

·         What separated the twelve from the others who left Jesus? Why did they remain in his company?

What do you take from this passage and apply to your life?

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