The Bread of Life…
A climber fell off a cliff. As he tumbled down into a deep gorge he grabbed hold of a branch of a small tree. “Help” he shouted. “Is there anyone up there?” A deep majestic voice from the sky echoed through the gorge. “I will help you, my son. But first you must have faith in me.” “All right, all right. I trust you,” answered the man. The voice replied, “Let go of the branch.” There was a long pause and the man shouted again, “Is there anyone else up there?”
The first reading and Gospel place a question in front of us: are we for God or against God? Christian life is a series of daily choices for God or against God. In the first reading Joshua, the leader who succeeded Moses, gathered all the tribes of Israelite in Shechem, where God first appeared to Abraham. We read in the Book of Genesis 12:6-7, “Abram passed through the land as far as the sacred place at Shechem, by the oak of Moreh. The Canaanites were then in the land. The LORD appeared to Abram and said: To your descendants I will give this land. So Abram built an altar there to the LORD who had appeared to him.” Joshua gathered the Israelites in Schechem, and urged them to commit themselves to serve the Lord, and not to fall into the wrong path and serve the false god. Joshua told them he is going to serve the Lord, and then he asked them whom are they going to serve the Lord. The people pledged their fidelity and ratified the covenant.
The first reading clearly compliments the Gospel, the conclusion of the Bread of Life discourse (John 6:60-69). After listening to Jesus many of his disciples complained, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” If we want to understand the background of this question, we need to read the previous passage. Jesus claims to be “the bread that comes down from heaven” (John 6:50); “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day”(John 6:54); “What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?” and these claims provoked them. Jesus encouraged everyone to take a leap of faith and at the same time he did not try to rephrase his words in order to clear up the misunderstanding. Jesus meant that his Body and Blood are real food and drink. He repeats this at the Last Supper. He took the bread, gave thanks, blessed and gave to his disciples and said, “This is my Body” likewise he took the cup, gave thanks, blessed and gave it to them and said, “This my Blood.”
Even today it is hard to understand and people turn away. Today’s passage describes the various reactions of the people to Jesus’ claims. What is our reaction? As Joshua spoke to his followers, Jesus speaks to the twelve apostles and gives them the option of leaving Him or staying with Him. Jesus said to his twelve disciples, “"Do you also want to leave?" Simon Peter answered him, "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” The disciples couldn’t reject Jesus after all that He has done for them. The apostles exercise their freedom of choice by choosing to stay with Jesus. The disciples cannot reject Jesus after all that He has done for them. The apostles exercise their freedom of choice by choosing to stay with Jesus.
Every Mass, we gather to meet Christ. We are here to listen for Christ's word for our life. We are here to say with Peter, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God." We have Mass every day of the week. We have the opportunity to spend time in adoration every Friday of the month. Let us meet him personally in the Eucharist celebration.