This weekend we celebrate the Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time. Today’s Gospel from John presents us with the last of the passages on the Bread of Life Discourse that have been proclaimed over the past five weeks. In some ways, this Sunday’s is a difficult passage to hear because everything that Jesus has been teaching about the Bread of Life, eating his flesh and drinking his blood, and having eternal life is not accepted by all who were following him. Many said: “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” So, they returned to their former way of life. Jesus looked at the Twelve and said, “Do you also want to leave?” And leave it to Peter (who has some insight, yet does not realize fully what he is saying) to jump in and say: “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Do you remember a few weeks ago in the Gospel when Jesus said to the crowd, “…you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled? He continued: “Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life…” Perhaps these were the same people who walked away from Jesus in this week’s Gospel passage. They didn’t “get it” because they were looking for something material to satisfy them. The Twelve understand somewhat because they were seeking something more, something deeper. The Twelve did not choose to leave Jesus and return to their former way of life because it was not the what but rather the Who that was of importance to them. Jesus and what he has to offer matters; Jesus, the Bread of Life, is the only person that can lead the us to God the Father. The chosen Twelve remained with Jesus; they were able to accept his words about the Bread from heaven, the cost of discipleship, and his flesh and blood he offered them with the promise of eternal life. Still today, in the Church, there are those who walk away from the gift Jesus offers us in the Eucharist. There are those who rarely come to church, some who fail to raise their children in the faith once they have been baptized or once they have received Confirmation and Eucharist, and others who have joined other denominations whose theology of Eucharist is quite different from ours, and they probably do not understand what they have walked away from. Let us continue to pray for those we miss at Eucharist and encourage them to join us at the Table of the Lord again.
Blessings on your week!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ