FIRST SATURDAY OF THE MONTH MAY 2, 2020
Gospel Jn 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.”
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.”
I had an Uncle Jesse who was a grandfather figure for me since I had no living grandparents. We would see him after church on Sundays and he would visit us often at home, sometimes bringing us peanuts and corn from his garden. I remember once he stopped by and took some of my siblings and me for a ride in the back of his pickup truck. As I sat in the very back, my hair was wildly blowing in the wind and the freedom of the ride was exhilarating. The experience was even more fun because I was eating an ice cream cone. That is, until dirt flew on it, making me throw it away. Despite the disappointment, I remember this ride fondly, because it felt as if the Spirit was lifting me, giving me a sensation of renewal.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus had just introduced a revolutionary idea in worshiping God, consuming the Eucharist as His body and blood. Many could not comprehend this teaching and left, but the twelve believed Jesus’ word was truth and life. They did not understand, but they listened with ears of faith. They believed in who He was and that He would always give them “words of eternal life”.
During that truck ride I was too young to understand the words of Spirit and life, so I looked forward to the fun of eating that cold treat more than the ride. My ice cream was only going to feed my body for a short time, but the surprisingly powerful wind gave me joy and showed that life was not just about things of this world.
Many hearts have been disappointed and some have been broken with the Catholic Church closing its doors to Mass. Let us reflect on how this pandemic brought us to a new awareness in reading the words of eternal life and listening to Jesus as the apostles did in faith. When we have fully returned to receiving the sacraments, I pray we will continue to take time to allow God to speak “Spirit and life” to us and pray for those who do not believe.