3RD WEEK OF EASTER
1st Reading: Acts 9:31-42
The Church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria was at peace. She was being built up and walked in the fear of the Lord, and with the consolation of the Holy Spirit she grew in numbers. As Peter was passing through every region, he went down to the holy ones living in Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, who had been confined to bed for eight years, for he was paralyzed. Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and make your bed.” He got up at once. And all the inhabitants of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord. Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which translated is Dorcas). She was completely occupied with good deeds and almsgiving. Now during those days she fell sick and died, so after washing her, they laid her out in a room upstairs. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him with the request, “Please come to us without delay.” So Peter got up and went with them. When he arrived, they took him to the room upstairs where all the widows came to him weeping and showing him the tunics and cloaks that Dorcas had made while she was with them. Peter sent them all out and knelt down and prayed. Then he turned to her body and said, “Tabitha, rise up.” She opened her eyes, saw Peter, and sat up. He gave her his hand and raised her up, and when he had called the holy ones and the widows, he presented her alive. This became known all over Joppa, and many came to believe in the Lord.
Gospel: Jn 6:60-69
Many of the disciples of Jesus who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.” As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer walked with 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.”
Jesus shocks the disciples: Jesus said, I am the good shepherd (Jn 10:11), that goes after the sheep that is lost. Yet, today, after many of his followers have departed, turns to the apostles and asks, do you also want to go? Is it not shocking that Jesus is not bothered that people are departing from him? Jesus is not ready to compromise on his teaching. He is true to the core. In fact, as the opposition was increasing Jesus conveys even strongly and clearly that he is the Bread of Life. There is only one conclusion to make from the strong reaction of Jesus. He is the Bread of life and he is not ready to water down the teaching. Ask yourself, do you understand the real meaning of the Eucharist? Do you truly believe Jesus is the Bread of Life and approach it with due preparation and disposition?
LORD TO WHOM SHALL WE GO? The conclusion to Chapter 6 of the Gospel of John is marked by the polarities of rejection and affirmation. The rejection is from the crowds that stopped following Him, because they found it hard when Jesus challenged them to go beyond the miracle of the loaves to the acceptance of the bread of life. There is also an affirmation, because amidst that testing time for Jesus, Simon Peter is able to affirm, “Master, where shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Peter in his typical spontaneity brings out another truth about the nature of Jesus. Have we recognised Jesus as the one who provides the “words of eternal life.”
Prayer: Lord, I do believe. Increase my faith!
AN UNDENIABLE YES TO JESUS: There are moments in the life of every Christian which pose a question similar to that of today’s Gospel: Do you want to continue following Jesus? The day we received the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, we were interrogated by the Priest: Do you renounce…? do you believe…? We or someone on hour behalf answered: “Yes, I renounce…” and “yes I believe;” however, such commitment implies adherence to the promise. The `no´ which we said to evil, and the `yes´ which we gave to God and to the Church must become visible in our day to day life. They are not just a formality which remains enclosed inside the walls of the Church. Rather, these two sacraments remain in us as indelible marks which helps us to remain faithful to our first `yes´ to Jesus. They strengthen us from within so that our lives, words and acts, witness a visible `yes´ to Jesus even when the context invite us to the contrary. We then become a living `yes´ to Jesus in every moment of our lives.
HARD SAYINGS OF JESUS: People followed and still follow Jesus for different reasons. Some followed him because he was popular, he fed them, liked his stories, thought he will lead an uprising against the Romans, while others out of curiosity or their friends were his disciples. The teachings of Jesus that those who followed him had to partake his body as food and his blood as drink perplexed many who did not understand him. For them, this was not only a new but hard teaching. They opted to walk away! Only few like Peter chose to stay: ‘where shall we go, you have words of eternal life.’ When we encounter life challenges like unemployment, sickness, war, floods, famine, family struggles, lack of school fees, political turmoil, injustice and even death of our loved ones where do we go? During such moments we need to turn to Jesus the source of eternal life. The teaching of Jesus calls for a total commitment and total dependence on him. “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer).