When many of Jesus’ 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 Jesus’ teaching 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.”
We heard last Sunday that the crowd was objecting to Jesus’ saying that his flesh and blood was food for them. Jesus did not explain to but asked them to be faithful to his word. Today, we see that some of his long time followers also objected to Jesus’ saying on the same ground s that of the crowd that he was merely a man and how could his flesh become food for them. Jesus knew they did not have the faith but he did nothing to remove their obstacle. Instead, Jesus challenged his apostles. Peter answered by professing for all their faith in him. But we should note that Peter did not say he understood what Jesus meant by eating his flesh.
Faith is a gift of the Father, as Jesus says to those disciples: “No one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” But the Father has offered them this gift and they have refused to accept it.
If we accept Jesus for he is the Son of God in human form, we have no difficulty in believing that he left us himself in the Eucharist as a sacrifice and a sacrament. This does not mean we understand this gift of Christ in all its details because it was an act of divine power and as such beyond full human comprehension.
When Peter answered Jesus’ challenge – “Would you too go away?” – he spoke not only for his fellow apostles that day with: “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the word of eternal life”, but for all Christians who really believe that Christ was the incarnate Son of God.
We should also note that Peter made his act of faith before he was fully convinced of the divinity of Jesus. Nevertheless, he was already convinced that Jesus was close to God and spoke nothing but the truth which Peter and the apostles later got. We also have the faith of two thousand years of Christians whose belief in the Blessed Eucharist as a sacrifice and sacrament was the very centre of their Christian lives.
Many of us may need to examine ourselves as regards the full and effective use we make of that gift. Every time we attend at Mass do we realize that Jesus is offering himself to his Father for our sanctification and for the sanctification of the world? Do we realize that we, through his minister at the altar, are offering infinite thanksgiving, infinite atonement, infinite adoration, infinitely effective petition, to our Father in heaven through the sacrifice of his divine Son in the Mass?
A true Christian who realizes and appreciates what the Son of God has done and is still doing for him will try always to make him or herself less unworthy. Amen.