August 26, 2012: 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
Many of Jesus’ disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” 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.” Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would 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. 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.” (John 6:60-69)
This gospel tells us that many of the men and women who followed Jesus were having difficulty understanding what he was saying–and many of them turned away, back to the lives they were living earlier. While they felt that Jesus seemed to be one they could follow, what he was saying to them they could not accept. He said his flesh was food and his blood was drink! I think many of us would have left him too. But his apostles came to see the deeply spiritual truth in that statement, and because they were convinced that he had been sent by God, they helped open up for us the real meaning of all that Jesus was saying.
Just sit with this gospel–reread it and ask yourself what you would have done had you been there. What do you do today when you read a gospel or epistle that you do not understand? Who is Jesus for you? How do you talk with him? As you read this gospel, which group would you have been in?