Joshua 24:1-2a, 15-18b
Ps 34:2-3, 16-21 (with 9a)
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John.
Many of Jesus’ disciples who were listening said,
“This saying is hard; who can accept it?”
Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this,
he said to them, “Does this shock you?
What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending
to where he was before?
It is the spirit that gives life,
while the flesh is of no avail.
The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life.
But there are some of you who do not believe.”
Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe
and the one who would betray him.
And he said,
“For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me
unless it is granted him by my Father.”
As a result of this,
many of his disciples returned to their former way of life
and no longer accompanied him.
Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go?
You have the words of eternal life.
We have come to believe
and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”
Good News Reflection: Looking beneath the surface to find Jesus
In this Sunday’s Gospel reading, we see the tragic rejection of Christ’s true mission by many who had been listening to him and watching him. How could they miss the message that he taught? “The words I have spoken are Spirit and life,” he said. But they only heard his words on the surface level, in their flesh-nature. And thus they missed the life that he was offering: the healed life, the joyful life, the victorious life, the eternal life.
They weren’t looking at Jesus spiritually. They saw him as a man, not a messiah, as a healer of bodies, not of souls, as a deliverer from the Romans instead of from their own sins.
Thus, the idea of eating his flesh and drinking his blood (which he had spoken of in the previous verses, in last Sunday’s readings) truly was gross and unthinkable. They couldn’t grasp the Spirit and life behind those words. It seemed that Jesus had become too bizarre to follow.
The true disciples — those who remained to learn more from him — also didn’t understand what he meant, not yet, but they recognized the presence of the Holy Spirit in his words.
How many times has Jesus come to you in another person and you didn’t recognize him, because what you saw was the human individual and what you focused on was the un-Christ-like behaviors of that person?
Everyone has been created in the image of God. They would not be alive if the Holy Spirit had not given them life. Even non-Christians have the presence of Christ in them. To live a more victorious life, we have to look beneath the surface to find the Jesus who is hidden inside everyone we meet.
Do you have any difficulty recognizing the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist at Mass? Practice recognizing Jesus when he comes to you in others, and you will see the Eucharist in new ways.
Questions for Personal Reflection:
Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.” How has the Father gifted you with the ability to recognize Jesus? What has happened in your life that opened your eyes to who Jesus really is?
Questions for Community Faith Sharing:
What blocks our view of Jesus when he comes to us through others? What expectations get in the way? What disappointments? What prejudices? Share with your group a time when you learned to see past the flesh to discover Jesus in someone you didn’t like. What led to this discovery?
Thank You, Lord, because Your word nurtures me and gives sense to my life. Give me the grace of following You when I walk aimlessly, and of accepting humbly Your ways even when I don’t understand. Amen.
© 2018 by Terry A. Modica