Saturday, April 21, 2018
1) Opening prayer
Faithful God of the covenant,
in the daily choices we have to make
give us the courage to opt always
for Your Son and His ways
and to remain close to Him.
Bless the difficult road we have sometimes to take
without seeing where it will lead us.
Keep us from making half-hearted decisions
when our faith is rather weak
and make us accept all the consequences of our choice.
Keep us always faithful
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
2) Gospel Reading - John 6:60-69
Many of the disciples of Jesus 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 walked with 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."
• Today’s Gospel presents the last part of the discourse of the Bread of Life. It is a question of the discussion of the disciples among themselves and with Jesus (Jn 6:60-66) and of the conversation of Jesus with Simon Peter (Jn 6:67-69). The objective is to show the exigencies of faith and the need for a serious commitment with Jesus and with His proposal. Up until this moment everything took place in the Synagogue of Capernaum. The place of this last part is not indicated.
• John 6:60-63: Without the light of the Spirit these words cannot be understood. Many disciples thought that Jesus Himself was going too far! The celebration of the Passover was coming to an end and He was placing Himself in the most central part of the Passover. For this reason many people separated from the community and no longer went with Jesus. Jesus reacts and says: “It is the Spirit that gives life; the flesh has nothing to offer”. It is here that He describes the impossibility of faith without divine action. It is only with the light of the Holy Spirit that it is possible to get the full sense of everything that Jesus says (Jn 14:25-26; 16:12-13). Paul, in the Letter to the Corinthians will say: “Written letters kill, but the Spirit gives life!” (2 Co 3:6).
• John 6:64-66: Some of you do not believe. In His discourse, Jesus had presented Himself as the food which satisfies hunger and thirst of all those who seek God. In the first Exodus, they have the test at Meriba. Before hunger and thirst in the desert, many doubted of the presence of God in their midst: “The Lord is in our midst, yes or no?” (Ex 17:7) and they complained against Moses (cf. Ex 17:2-3; 16:7-8). They wanted to get away from him and return to Egypt. The disciples fall into this same temptation, they doubt of the presence of Jesus in the breaking of the bread. Confronted with the words of Jesus to “eat My flesh and drink My blood”, many complained like the crowds in the desert (Jn 6:60) and make the decision to break away from Jesus and with the community: “they went away and accompanied Him no more” (Jn 6:66). The term “flesh and blood” is also a common Old Testament reference to life and the living.
• John 6:67-71: Confession of Peter. At the end only the twelve remain with Him. In the face of the crisis produced by His words and His gestures, Jesus turns toward His more intimate friends, represented there by the twelve and says: “Do you want to go away also?” For Jesus it is not a question of having many people following Him. Neither does He change the discourse when the message does not please. He speaks in order to reveal the Father and not to please anyone. He prefers to remain alone, and not be accompanied by people who are not committed to the Father’s plan. Peter’s response is beautiful: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the message of eternal life, and we believe; we have come to know that You are the Holy One of God!” Even without understanding everything, Peter accepts Jesus as Messiah and believes in Him. In the name of the group He professes his faith in the broken bread and in His word. Jesus is the word and the bread which satisfies the new people of God (Dt 8:3). In spite of all his limitations, Peter is not like Nicodemus who wanted to see all things clearly according to his own ideas. But among the twelve there was someone who did not accept the proposal of Jesus. In this more intimate circle there was an enemy (the Devil) (Jn 6:70-71) “he who shares My table takes advantage of Me” (Si 41:10; Jn 13:18).
4) Personal questions
• If I place myself in Peter’s place before Jesus, what response do I give Jesus who asks me: “Do you want to go away also?”
• Today many persons no longer follow Jesus. Whose fault is it?
• Falling away can be like the crowd here. Little by little until there is nothing left. How do we see when we are falling away little by little and what can be done to prevent or reverse it?
• Which situation is worse: One who followed and then fell away, or one who never followed in the first place?
5) Concluding Prayer
Lord, I am Your servant, I am Your servant
and my mother was Your servant;
You have undone my fetters.
I shall offer You a sacrifice of thanksgiving
and call on the name of Yahweh. (Ps 116:16-17)