The Stumbling Block: Eucharist
Saturday, May 7, 2022 (Third Week of Easter)
by Fr. David M. Knight
View today's readings: Acts 9: 31-42; John 6: 60-69
The readings, summarized in the Responsorial Psalm, are about acknowledging and repaying the good someone has done: “How shall I make a return to the Lord for all the good he has done for me?” (Psalm 116).
Acts 9: 31-42 shows us God rewarding Tabitha, who had been “devoted to good works and acts of charity.” When she died, “all the widows came to Peter weeping and showing him the tunics and cloaks she had made while she was with them.” Through Peter, God “raised her up” to life again. God’s return to her and to us for the good that we do is everlasting life, joy forever.
In John 6: 60-69 we see the opposite taking place. People Jesus had blessed with his ministry, even his own disciples, began “murmuring” against his promise, “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day.” Many of his disciples said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” When he gave them miracles, they were happy to be with him. But when he asked them for faith they refused him.
We find the same mystery that Jesus found in people’s free responses. Why do some people find joy in the faith while others with the same background and training — perhaps members of the same family — give up the faith as meaningless to them?
The answer Jesus gives sounds like predestination: “Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe…. And he said, ‘For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.’” But he is not denying free will or saying that some are given the grace to believe and others are not. He is simply pointing out that faith is a gift; it is not just a free human choice but the acceptance of a gift from on high. And some will not accept to believe on those terms; they want everything to be clear and simple to them, reduced to understandable human dimensions. They want their religion to be humanly “meaningful.” Many stop going to Mass, mindless of its mystery, because it doesn’t “turn them on.”
Jesus did not explain how we can “eat his flesh.” It was believe or not believe — no middle ground. As a result, “many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer walked with him.” Jesus asked the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Peter answered for all, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
“How shall we make a return to the Lord for all the good he has done for us?” The answer is simple: “Believe” — not because we understand, but simply to be faithful to Jesus Christ.
Initiative: Be a prophet. Respond with faith even when you don’t understand.
Reflections brought to you by the Immersed in Christ Ministry