21st Sunday in Ordinary Time 2021

My Dear People,

Sincere thanks to the Knights of Columbus for attending the Mass on Monday in Honor of Blessed Michael McGivney. Next year the feast day falls on Saturday, August 13th which will be more convenient. 

As we continue to read from the Gospel of John, we come to a crucial point today where the Disciples have to make a choice to remain with Jesus or go home. Some of Jesus’ Disciples refute His words about His body and blood. They describe His explanation as hard, and unacceptable. Now they are murmuring like the Israelites in the wilderness and the Jews who objected to Jesus’ teaching (6:41-42).

Instead of watering down His teaching, Jesus challenges them and says: “Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before?” Jesus, the Son of Man, and bread of life, has come down from heaven and will offer His flesh and blood as eternal food.  If these disciples cannot accept that Jesus came down from heaven, took flesh and then commands His followers to eat His flesh and drink His blood, how will they accept His  returning to the Father by means of His death on the cross and resurrection?  Jesus must offer His flesh for the world’s salvation on the cross, displaying His love for the Father and the Father’s love for the world. After being gloriously transformed in the resurrection, Jesus’ flesh will be ready for heavenly existence and having ascended to glory, become spiritual food for believers. 

The remedy for the Disciples is to be more spiritual—that is, to become believers with a deep faith, born of the Spirit: It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail  (compare 3:6). These disciples should not try to make Jesus conform to their human standards (“the flesh”) but should conform themselves to His Spirit-filled, life giving teachings— the words of spirit and life. As St. Cyril of Alexandria comments: “It is not the nature of the flesh that renders the spirit  life-giving, but the might of the Spirit that makes the body life-giving. The words that I have spoken to you are of the spirit, that is, and they are life.”

With some of His disciples now rebelling, Jesus, who knows all things, knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him.  The power to believe is found in love. The light of divine truth exceeds our mind’s power; it cannot be mastered by us (3:8). Although far beyond our mind’s power; the divine truth is attractive, and those who yield to its light yield to its lovableness. On our part, this yielding to the divine light is an act of the will. Conversely, those who love themselves to the point that they are unwilling to risk surrendering to the light will never know what it is to believe. They resist the Father’s work.  Hence, Jesus reaffirms: For this reason, I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.” (See 6:29, 37,44).

Jesus’ words are too much for these disciples. Like the rich young man who cannot accept Jesus’ teaching on wealth and discipleship (Matt 19:16-22), many disciples left him because of these teachings.  Jesus then turns to his inner circle, the Twelve, and asks them if they also want to leave. We hear Peter’s famous confession of faith in Jesus, when asking, “To whom shall we go?” He affirms that apart from Jesus there is nothing truly worthwhile. Jesus’ teachings are the words of eternal life. And Peter continues: “We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy one of God”.  In Scriptures, holiness is the proper attribute describing God, “the Holy One’(Isa 41:14).  Similarly in John’s Gospel only the Father, the Holy Spirit, and (here) Jesus are called “holy.” By calling Jesus “the Holy One of God,” Peter professes Jesus’ divinity. He has yielded in love to the beauty of the light and has experienced its truth.  

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Vincent Clemente 


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