When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But among you there are some who do not believe.”
For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.” Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
When I read this Gospel, I needed to know what saying the disciples could not accept. So I went back and read this in the preceding passage: “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day.” Yep, that’s a hard one!
Then I wondered whether it matters which teaching they couldn’t accept. So many of Jesus’ teachings are hard to live out. We are confronted with Jesus’ question at various times throughout our lives: “Do you also wish to go away?” Sometimes, we answer “yes” in our actions or inaction.
Jesus reminds us that living our faith requires grace: “No one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.” Let us pray for the grace of faith, which is a gift. May Scripture strengthen our faith as we say with Peter, “You have the words of eternal life.”
—Rachel Forton is the Marketing Coordinator for Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House in Barrington, IL.
Gracious and holy Father,
grant us the intellect to understand you,
reason to discern you, diligence to seek you,
wisdom to find you, a spirit to know you,
a heart to meditate upon you.
May our ears hear you, may our eyes behold you,
and may our tongues proclaim you.
Give us grace that our way of life may be pleasing to you,
that we may have the patience to wait for you
and the perseverance to look for you.
Grant us a perfect end–your holy presence,
a blessed resurrection and life everlasting.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.
—Prayer of St. BenedictPlease share the Good Word with your friends!