THE EUCHARIST DEMANDS FAITH
(A biblical refection on THE 21ST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME [Year B] – August 23, 2015)
Gospel Reading: John 6:60-69
First Reading: Joshua 24:1-2,15-18; Psalms: Psalm 34:2-3,16-23; Second Reading: Ephesians 5:21-32
Many of His disciples, when they heard it, said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, knowing in Himself that His disciples murmured at it, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of man ascending where He was before? It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you that do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who those were that did not believe, and who it was that should betray Him. And He said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to Me unless it is granted him by the Father.”
After this many of His disciples drew back and no longer went about with Him. Jesus said to the twelve, “Will you also go away?” Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that You are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:60-69 RSV)
Jesus knows that the Eucharist demands faith – more and more faith. So He says, “It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you that do not believe” (John 6:63-64).
The saints with their healthy hunger for Christ are much more satisfied and nourished with the Eucharistic Lord than we are. Some of us may even be near the zero point, as Jesus suggests. We really need more faith and are starving for it.
Lost hunters or campers start out by looking for directions or shouting for their friends. But the longer they’re lost and the worse things get, the more they simply hunger for food. So with us: as things get spiritually worse, we’re no longer helped by friends or position or possessions. We’re simply starving for something lasting, a food that’s permanent, the Bread of Life.
We have to allow our faith-hunger to grow. If we have no spiritual appetite, then like a sick person we won’t find Christ very appealing. How can we develop a healthy spiritual appetite? St. Paul answers, “Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24). Briefly speaking: “Put on the new man!” In other words, get your priorities straight: put the important things first.
We know that trust in a friend grows by experiences shared together. We begin to lean on that friend for support and advice and a sharing of problems as well as joys. In time faith and trust are there! That is how our spiritual appetite becomes healthy: by frequent contact with Jesus. The more we share with Him, the stronger the friendship becomes. The more we eat the Bread of Life, the greater the fulfillment of His presence. More friendship and fulfillment bring stronger faith and growing spiritual health.
Short Prayer: Lord Jesus, You are the Holy One who loves, hears, and rescues us. If You ask the same question to us as You did to Peter, then like Peter, we too will answer: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Amen.
Jakarta, 21 August 2015
A Christian Pilgrim