21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
Joshua 24:1-2,15-17,18 II:
60 Many of his disciples, when they heard it, said, "This is a hard
saying; who can listen to it?"
61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at it, said
to them, "Do you take offense at this?
62 Then what if you were to see the Son of man ascending where he was
63 It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words
that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
64 But there are some of you that do not believe." For Jesus knew from
the first who those were that did not believe, and who it was that
would betray him.
65 And he said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless
it is granted him by the Father."
66 After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about
67 Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also wish to go away?"
68 Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the
words of eternal life;
69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One
- Jn 6:60-69 is the closing section of the discourse on the bread of life.
- The synagogue of Capernaum has been the scene of Jesus' teaching. Jesus'
words are greeted with unbelief. Many of His listeners find it difficult to
accept Jesus as the sacramental bread of life (v.60).
- "Flesh" in (v.63) "flesh is useless" or in (Mt.16:17) "flesh and blood
has not revealed this ... but my Father in Heaven," refers to human nature,
contrasting with the "spirit" of God, and has a different meaning from the
one intended in (v.55) "my flesh is real food."
- For the first time, the darkest possibility of all enters the story. Not
only will some in Jerusalem persecute and kill Him but Jesus will be the
subject of betrayal from within His discipleship community (v.64).
- At the beginning of the chapter, Jesus saw a vast crowd "coming toward
Him" (v.5) for whom He would feed with bread. At the chapter's end, many will
"walk away" (v.66).
- Peter is strong in his faith and conviction:
- Jesus has referred to His words as spirit and life (v.63),
Peter builds on this and calls them "words of eternal life" (v.68).
- Jesus spoke of Himself as the "One who is from God" (v.46),
Peter calls Him: "the Holy One of God" (v.69).
- Jesus taught that no one could come to Him unless the Father draw him
Peter affirms that truth by his question: "Lord, to whom shall we go?"
- Peter says for the group that they have already a deep-rooted confidence
in Jesus, they do not want to leave Him. They had begun to perceive Jesus
as Messiah (Mt 16:13-20, Mk 8:27-30), the Holy One of God (Mk 1:24, Lk 1:35,
4:34, Acts 2:27).
- Judas would betray Jesus (v.64,71) for obviously faith was not "granted
him by the Father" (v.65). Similarly, many other disciples left His company
just as Judas would leave the supper room (13:30). They would not be
present for the moment when Jesus would give His "flesh" for the "life" of
the world, and "ascend" to the Father.
One Main Point
The promise of the Eucharist led many people (the crowd, the Judean, His
disciples) to give up following Jesus (v.66), but the Twelve believed in
- You are present among the crowds. What is your reaction to Jesus' teachings?
How do you think Jesus felt after many of His disciples stopped following Him?
- Have you ever found something, or some teachings, hard to accept and how does
this passage address that situation?
- What was your motive in coming to Jesus? What is your motive now for
remaining in Him?
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A synthesis by the Vietnamese Christian Life (Dong Hanh) Community