Even though Jesus had fed the five thousand and they were satisfied and there was plenty more where this gift of grace came from, even though they traveled by boat and followed him to Capernaum seeking a sign, the discourse regarding eating his Flesh and drinking his Blood was just too far of a stretch for most of the disciples to take. In fact: Many of the disciples of Jesus who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it” (Jn 6:60)?
Many of his disciples walked away from Jesus at that point. They returned to their former ways of life because they could not believe in what Jesus was saying. They could not believe because they did not fully appreciate who Jesus was, the One from above, who was sent by the Father. They had not developed a deep enough relationship with him such that they could trust him and what he said was true, they could not believe in the One whom God had sent.
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” (Jn 6:67-69). Peter’s response is one of belief and trust. I am sure they reacted in the same way as the other disciples gathered there, but they trusted Jesus enough that even though this teaching was hard, even inconceivable, he would make sense of it for them, just as he had done so when he helped to share with them the deeper meaning of his parables.
This is to be our response as well. When we find some of his teachings are hard to digest, we need to resist the temptation to walk away. Instead may we follow Mary’s model of pondering, as she did when Gabriel shared she would bear the Savior of the world. She did not fully comprehend what the message meant, but she trusted God and said yes. May we follow Peter, who may have also been dealing with mixed emotions and doubts, remained firm in his belief in Jesus because he trusted that Jesus was the “Holy One of God”. Peter had experienced that Jesus had known what he was saying and doing before, he would continue to trust him this time as well.
Jesus is a model to follow, yes, but he is so much more! Jesus does not give us more burdens to bear, but graces that build on our nature that we are invited to receive. He did not want to die, but he was willing to say yes, to submit his human will to his Father because he trusted him and knew he would bring about a greater good. Jesus gave his life, so that he died and in so doing conquered death, transcending the time and space of our present dimension so to be present to us in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Jesus lives, he is the first born of the new creation, and he wants to not only lead us to eternal life, but impart his life in us, in such an intimate way that we may consume him, that we may be one with him in this life and for all eternity! May we with Peter come to believe and be convinced, that Jesus is the Holy One of God!
I’m alive, I’m alive,
Because he lives.
Let my song join the One that never ends.
Because he lives.
Verse from Matt Maher’s song, “Because He Lives (Amen)”.
Photo: Sharing Jesus at my first Mass as a deacon
Because He Lives (Amen), Matt Maher, from cd: Saints and Sinners, 2015
Link to music video: Music video by Matt Maher performing Because He Lives (Amen) [Official Lyric Video]. (C) 2014 Provident Label Group LLC, a unit of Sony Music Entertainment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBvU7arNhQs