Twenty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time B
August 22, 2021
John 6: 60-69
By Rev. John Tran
Today we finish our reflection on chapter 6 of St. John’s gospel. We have seen that Jesus has offered us his body and blood as the means to eternal life. The crowd has been bewildered by what Jesus said. The Jewish leaders and the crowd have made it clear that they do not accept this teaching. And now today the disciples give their opinion. They tell Jesus, “This saying is hard; who can accept it.” And they began to melt away returning to their former ways of life. They leave Jesus’ company.
The people only want Jesus to make their world right again. They want to rule themselves; they want enough to eat and drink, enough shelter and clothing. Jesus too, wants to make things right for the world. But Jesus puts the responsibility on us. It is up to us, with the strength of the Spirit of Jesus to give food to the hungry, to struggle for peace and justice, to be with the oppressed and those in pain. He calls us to accept his body and blood in order to reveal to others the good news of our friendship, and through this friendship, the good news that all are loved by God.
Jesus must be deeply wounded in his heart because so many are turning away from him, are refusing the offering of his very self. And so, as Jesus turns to the Twelve, we can almost hear the sorrow in his voice.
Now Jesus asks them, “Do you want to leave too?” Now they have to decide. What about this far out request for them to eat Jesus body and drink his blood. No doubt they, too, find this difficult to understand. But they are different from the other disciples who have gone their own way. These twelve have come to Jesus because it was granted to them by Jesus’ Father. They have seen and experience the person Jesus and they have believed in his person, not just what he says. That makes all the difference.
There is a movie about a priest and a captain in the military service. The two of them have become great friends, but their views are radically opposed. The priest is a devout believer; the captain a lapsed Catholic and an atheist. The captain is mortally wounded on the battlefield, and at the risk of his own life, his friend the priest crawls to his side in a last, desperate attempt to save his soul. “Please”, he is begging “Let me hear your confession, let me give you the last rites!” whereupon the captain answers him: “No, my friend, I love the singer, I do not love the song,” meaning: “I love you, but I do not care for your religion.”. Well, this may sound good in a movie, but it cannot really be done in our Christian religion. In our religion Christ can not be separated from His message; the Singer and the Song are One teaching as demanded by Jesus in today’s Gospel. That is our decision today.
What is our answer on this Sunday in August 2015? Are we up to becoming what receiving his body and blood calls from us to be? It is our turn to answer. We can either walk away said like the rich young man in the parable, or we can take up the way of Jesus and live out his passion and resurrection each day.