A reading from the holy Gospel according to 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.”
Many years ago, I had just married and moved for the first time in my life. It was exciting for me to have a change after living all my life in one place. However, it was also strange to experience a different climate and topography. The familiar swamps, towering trees and lush landscapes were replaced with brown grass, trees that looked like gnarled bushes and a river that was the same size as the drainage ditches alongside every street in my home state. Flat land was replaced with rolling hills and summer’s suffocating humidity disappeared under the dry, oven-like HOT air. I loved the change and learned a lot about God from his creation and my experience. I witnessed people from different denominations worshiping God and living their lives without the Eucharist. Truth be told, I didn’t understand the importance of the Eucharist at this time in my life, so their faith was only strange to me because they didn’t seem required to go to church every Sunday.
Jesus had just told his disciples to eat his flesh and drink his blood to have eternal life. This was a revolutionary concept his disciples did not understand. How could they? This was so far removed from anything they had ever heard in their quest to follow God. Jesus heard the murmurings and explained, “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.”
The very words of Jesus are Spirit and life. The Spirit is poured into the hosts during consecration, words spoken only by priests, bringing forth transubstantiation. These words lead us to eternal life and bring glory to God. The twelve apostles had spent three years of their lives learning from Jesus and witnessing a multitude of miracles. That experience seemed to help them keep their faith in Jesus, no matter what he said. The Eucharist had not been fully revealed to the apostles yet, so they could not understand Jesus’ words. Therefore, many left and went back to their former lives.
God gives us the choice to believe or to turn away from His Words and the Eucharist. When our lives seem to be in an upheaval and we don’t understand the direction to take, we must ask ourselves, “to whom shall we go?” Our God calls us to trust, especially when God has not revealed enough for our understanding. And while we wait for God’s answer to our prayers, may we find strength in our Eucharistic Lord by eating his flesh and drinking his blood to have eternal life.