Gospel Jn 6:51-58

“For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.”

Reading the early chapters of John’s Gospel, we witness the growing popularity of Jesus. The people, including his disciples, were enthusiastic when he performed miracles, but teachings like that unfolding in chapter 6 begin to put people’s noses out of joint. Whereas after his multiplication of the loaves and fishes they wanted to carry him away and make him a king, now, in the midst of what is a deeply troubling teaching they begin to raise objections and his teaching invokes serious dissent causing many to cease following him.

This is perhaps an exemplar of the experience of believers today, who enjoy a certain amount of popularity when they engage in social justice activities, but experience a great deal of rejection, even persecution when they share elements of the faith that are personally challenging.

Pope Benedict, commenting on this passage wrote that, ‘In explaining the image of the bread, [Jesus] affirms that he has been sent to offer his own life and he who wants to follow him must join him in a deep and personal way, participating in his sacrifice of love.’ (BXVI)

This is where the teachings of Jesus are too much for a lot of us. We are happy to know that he can work miracles, and we are excited at the prospect of enacting justice on his behalf, but these teachings are an uncomfortable fact of our faith and can be difficult to accept and even seen as a source of embarrassment.

Let us pray for perseverance in the faith. That we would be wholly given over to the fullness of the faith as it is gifted to us.

Point to Ponder

Dear friends, let us once again be filled with wonder by Christ’s words. He, a grain of wheat scattered in the furrows of history, is the first fruits of the new humanity, freed from the corruption of sin and death. And let us rediscover the beauty of the Sacrament of the Eucharist which expresses all God’s humility and holiness. His making himself small, God makes himself small, a fragment of the universe to reconcile all in his love. May the Virgin Mary, who gave the world the Bread of Life, teach us to live in ever deeper union with him.

Pope Benedict XVI, Angelus Message, 19 August 2012