Wellspring of Scripture


Year B: 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Gospel: John 6: 60-69

Today, we come to the climax of the discourse on Jesus as the Bread of Life: the Living Bread come down from Heaven. John has taken us through the Sign of the feeding of the five thousand - Jesus’ exploration of what the Sign means - and now, the crunch comes - what is the response of the disciples to be?


For many, the response is simple: how could anyone accept such intolerable language? They have heard words that they do not understand - which, in fact, repel them. It simply is impossible to believe that Jesus is inviting them to eat his flesh and drink his blood and so, many of those who had followed Jesus up to this point now walk away. They have reached an obstacle which they cannot overcome.


It is not difficult to imagine the sadness as Jesus watched them leave - and his fear that he was to be completely abandoned. So, he turns to the Twelve apostles and asks them what they are going to do...


Peter speaks up for the whole group and answers a question with a question: who else can we go to? It is unlikely that the apostles understood Jesus’ words any more than those who chose to leave but they discerned that there was a deeper truth in them than they could yet perceive. They accepted that their lack of understanding did not mean that the words were wrong - rather, they accepted that they would have to grow into their meaning.


In the meantime, they were prepared to put their trust in the person of Jesus. They had seen enough to sense that he is the Holy One of God and that, in him, they would somehow find eternal life.


The process of being attracted by something in Jesus - listening to what the Word says - and then, addressing the question: “are you going to leave or stay?”, is part of the spiritual journey. For most of us, it can happen many times in a lifetime. We are faced with a choice: do I accept this - or do I acknowledge that I have to grow into its meaning? And what do I do - to whom do I turn whilst I am growing into understanding?


This is the challenge of the Gospel - and one well illustrated today - and in the end our response has to be personal - to walk away - or to stay and walk further into the Mystery.


What does it mean for me?


Put yourself in the shoes of those who left - how might you persuade them to risk staying?

What could you tell them of your own meetings with Jesus in the Eucharist?

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