Scripture: 1st Reading: Acts9,31-42; Resp. Psalm: Ps116,12-17; Gosp. Accl.: Jn6,63,68; Gospel: Jn6,60-69
There are times in life when great decisions are to be made. Some of these decisions are life enhancing and some of them are life threatening. Some decisions can be the foundation of what the rest of one's life will be. In moments of great decisions, we need the active presence of the Holy Spirit and the gift of discernment that the Spirit gives.
But difficult as those steps may be, definitely though their outcomes are, once they are made, we live by the consequences of our decisions. When they are made with the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we live with pleasurable and heartwarming consequences. Our Lord had to make several of these decisions during His lifetime. One of such is the one we read in today's gospel passage.
After the discourse on the bread of life, and after our Lord told them that He was the living bread and that His flesh was real food and real drink and that to have eternal life, one needed to eat His flesh and drink His blood, some of His disciples found this language intolerable. Some complained that He wanted to make them into flesh eating cannibals and blood sucking vampires. They called His teaching "hard saying".
For our Lord, it was the moment of decision. it was the moment to sieve the wheat from the chaff. It was the moment to declare who He was and why He came into the world. It was the moment to know who would eventually be His disciples and who would not. Our Lord did not change His language to accommodate their grievances.
He added more! Our Lord told them that what would be their reaction if they saw Him ascending to where He was before? In other words, He was telling them that He was divine! He told them that the words He spoke to them were spirit and life. Finally, He declared to them once again that no one could come to Him unless it was granted to the person by the Father.
It was the moment of decision. The entire ministry of Jesus depended on this. The future of the ministry after His departure rested on this moment. And to be sure, many of His disciples left Him that day. But this did not deter our Lord. He looked at the Twelve and asked: "will you also away?" Peter then answered on behalf of others: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God."
There are decisions on faith that we have to make daily. There are decisions of life that we have to make. The presence of the Risen Lord in those moments is very crucial. His presence makes the needed difference. Our Lord today did not beg those who wanted to go not to. This is because discipleship is a choice, a personal choice. It is a choice that the individual makes for himself and lives by. Discipleship is therefore never to be forced. No one is to be compelled to believe.
The Apostles in the First Reading today give us ample examples of this. Hundreds of people turned to the faith and became believers on the strength of what they saw the Apostles doing: the healing of paralytic and bedridden Aeneas in Lydda and the raising of Dorcas in Joppa. Those were two miracles that turned people to the faith. The word of God says that "it became known throughout all Joppa and many believed in the Lord." May the example of our lives lead the people who see us into the faith.
Let us pray: "O God, who in the font of Baptism have made new those who believe in you, keep safe those reborn in Christ, that defeating every onslaught of error, they may faithfully preserve the grace of your blessing." Amen.
May the Living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always.