REFLECTION FOR TODAY
April 24, 2021
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer walked with him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Jn. 6:66-67
In concluding His teaching on the Bread of life, Jesus spoke to the heart of the matter, timeless words essential to the disciples then and equally important to us today. Jesus reaffirm that we cannot gain life on our own, we must accept His teaching as it is given in the Spirit.
In our gospel reference of today, we are told many of His disciples turned their back on Him and stopped following Him so, Jesus asked the twelve, “do you want to leave? There is a progression in Jesus’ teaching on the Bread of life. He moved from a more general statements about the Bread of Life that are easier to accept to more specific statements that are challenging.
He concluded His teaching just prior to today’s Gospel by saying very directly, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” After Jesus said this, many who had been listening to Him left Him and no longer followed Him.
Jesus’ teaching on the Eucharist evoked three common attitudes from people. One attitude is that of profound faith. Another is that of indifference. And a third is what we find in today’s Gospel: disbelief. Those who walked away from Jesus in today’s Gospel did so because they said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” What a great statement and question to ponder.
It is true, in a certain way, that the teaching of Jesus on the Most Holy Eucharist is a hard saying. “Hard,” however, is not bad. It’s hard in the sense that belief in the Eucharist is only possible through a faith that comes from a deep interior revelation from God. In the case of those who walked away from Jesus, they heard His teaching, but their hearts were closed to the gift of faith.
They remained stuck on a purely intellectual level, and, thus, the idea of eating the Flesh and Blood of the Son of God was more than they could comprehend. So, who could accept such a statement? Only those who listen to our Lord as He speaks to them interiorly. It is only that interior conviction that comes from God that can be proof of the truthfulness of the Holy Eucharist.
Do you believe that when you consume that which appears to be only “bread and wine,” you are actually consuming Christ Himself? Do you understand this teaching of our Lord on the Bread of Life? It is a hard saying and a difficult teaching, which is why it must be taken very seriously.
For those who do not flat out reject this teaching, there is also the temptation to be somewhat indifferent to the teaching. It can easily be misunderstood to be just symbolism in the way our Lord talks. But the symbolism is much more than just symbolism. It’s a profound, challenging, and life-changing teaching of how we share in the divine and eternal life our Lord wishes to bestow upon us.
Reflect, today, upon how deeply you believe this hard saying of Jesus. The fact that it is a “hard” saying should make you seriously examine your own faith or lack thereof. What Jesus teaches is life changing. It’s life-giving. And when clearly understood, you will be challenged to either believe with your whole heart or turn away in disbelief. Allow yourself to believe in the Most Holy Eucharist with your whole heart and you will find that you are believing one of the most profound Mysteries of Faith.
My glorious Lord, Your teaching on the Most Holy Eucharist is beyond human comprehension. It is a mystery so deep that we will never fully understand this precious gift. Open my eyes, dear Lord, and speak to my mind so that I may listen to Your words and respond with the deepest faith. Jesus, I trust in You.