Thursday, 19 August 2021 15:37

Lord, who shall we go to?

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21OTBWeb400After hearing this doctrine many of the followers of Jesus said, ‘This is intolerable language. How could anyone accept it?’ Jesus was aware that his followers were complaining about it and said, ‘Does this upset you? What if you should see the Son of Man ascended to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh has nothing to offer. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe.’

For Jesus knew from the outset those who did not believe, and who it was that would betray him. He went on, ‘This is why I told you that no one could come to me unless the Father allows him.’ After this many of his disciples left him and stopped going with him.

Then Jesus said to the twelve, ‘What about you, do you want to go away too?’
Simon Peter answered, ‘Lord, who shall we go to?
You have the message of eternal life, and we believe; we know that you are the Holy One of God.’ (Jn 6:60-69)

Our excursion into the ‘Bread of Life’ passages of Chapter 6 of Saint John’s Gospel comes to an end today.

The affirmation of faith in God by the people in the first reading from the Old Testament book of Joshua is echoed by Peter’s affirmation of faith in Jesus in the Gospel. Joshua says: It’s decision time. Who will be your God? The people answer: We remember what God has done for us. We have no intention of deserting the Lord our God - unlike some of the followers of Jesus in the Gospel.

Over the last four Sundays, St John has taken us on a journey of discovering Jesus as the living Word of God who nourishes and strengthens us on our journey; as the living bread who gives his very self (flesh and blood) for the life of the world; and, today, as the bread of faith. Those who share the bread of faith are those who have chosen to believe in Jesus and follow him.

Only by drawing life from Jesus can one be drawn into the life of God. We feed on Jesus so that he becomes part of us and his life continues to grow in us and our life becomes caught up in his. That life draws us into communion with the life of God. We become sharers in that life, our awareness of which is nourished and strengthened as we eat and drink.

This meditation from John is about how Jesus is still present and a source of faith and nourishment in the life of the post-resurrection Christian community. The ‘real presence’ of Jesus lives on in the community. That presence is perceived by faith and received as living Word, food and drink, nourishing disciples in their journey to be the ‘real presence’ of Jesus in the world, the everlasting sign of God’s love for all.

At Eucharist we gather in communion with each other, with Jesus the Word, with Jesus the Bread and Wine. We are doing in a sacramental way what Jesus is doing in a real way within us. The Eucharist is teaching us how to live our lives as Christian disciples: how to be in communion with God and each other through our communion with Jesus.

What we physically eat and drink become us. Food changes and transforms cells, blood, muscle, tissue and organs. The purpose of Christian life is for us to become Christ. Having faith, being nourished by him changes and transforms us into his body and blood for the life of the world. We become the real presence of Jesus in the world today.

Connections to the Eucharist
The words of the Gospels of these five Sundays parallel our experience of celebrating the Eucharist. There are three ‘holy communions’ at mass, not one. There is the communion of believers, as the people of Christ gather to celebrate the Eucharist; the communion of the Word when we listen together to the Scriptures; and the communion of the Bread and Wine when we eat and drink together. These communions are holy because, through Christ, God and human beings are in communion with one another and God is at work nourishing, healing, redeeming and forming the face of his Son within us – so that we may be the living presence of Christ in the world today. Feasting on Christ in Word and Sacrament, we too, are called to nourish and strengthen each other on our journey to God.

Download our Celebrating At Home liturgy for this Sunday.

pdf Celebrating At Home 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time [PDF] (485 KB)
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