From the Pastor – August 22, 2021

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.” (Jn 6:66-69)

This Sunday we complete our five week Eucharistic study of the 6th Chapter of John’s Gospel.  Four weeks ago we heard about the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes – earthly food.  Three weeks ago we heard Jesus describe Himself as the “bread from Heaven,” calling to mind the manna sent from heaven to nourish the Israelites in their Exodus in the desert.  Two weeks ago Jesus starts facing detractors; but instead of backing down, He described Himself as the means by which we have access to the Father.  Last week we celebrated the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, but the Gospel normally read on that Sunday has Jesus discussing the process of gaining access to the Father through Him:  by actually eating His body and drinking His blood. (Jn 6:54).  Gone are the references to bread.  Now He’s talking about His flesh and blood.  And this week, many followers begin leaving Him.  It’s too much for them to take.  The idea of cannibalism goes against their law, and sounds insane.

But the Apostles remain.  They can’t go anywhere because – as Peter says on their behalf – Jesus “has the words of Eternal Life.”  What does that mean?

Think about it: the words of Jesus probably didn’t make any more sense to the Twelve Apostles than they did to the others who were walking away. The words would only make sense one year later when Jesus took bread and changed it into His body and took wine and changed it into His blood at the Last Supper, and then allowed the Apostles to eat His flesh and drink His blood for the first time.  But in this Gospel passage, a year before that meal, Peter trusted in what Jesus said because he TRUSTED JESUS.  Peter understood that a choice for Jesus means a choice to trust in what He says, to base one’s life on Him, and to put into practice what He asks.  And most importantly, Peter realized that walking away from Jesus meant walking toward someone or something else that could never offer the hope of Eternal Life.

That’s the key: Eternal Life.  Jesus doesn’t offer treasures on earth.  He offers treasures in Heaven.  He points the way, and provides the means by which we gain access to Our Father in Heaven.

Over the last month, I’ve been saddened by the deaths of many faithful Catholics.  But I’ve also heard powerful expressions of hope by those who’ve been left behind.  That hope that can only come from people who TRUST JESUS.  Even if we don’t always understand why things happen to us in our lives, we know with certainty that trusting Jesus means trusting that He has the words to eternal life.

(Rev. Msgr.) Christopher H. Nalty