Friday of the Third Week of Easter Father James Swanson, LC
John 6: 52-59
The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his Flesh to eat?" Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my Flesh is true food, and my Blood is true drink. Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever." These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe that you are present here and now as I turn to you in prayer. I trust and have confidence in your desire to give me every grace I need to receive today. Thank you for your love, thank you for your immense generosity toward me. I give you my life and my love in return.
Petition: Lord, help me to face challenges and continue to follow you in faith.
1. What is it I Truly Seek? On the preceding day Jesus multiplied loaves and fishes to feed the multitude. The Jews realize there is something special here, that Jesus may be the Messiah, or at least a prophet. They are curious enough to continue following him and asking him questions. They have liked everything he has said up till now. Some of it they have not understood completely or correctly, but it has been close enough to what they are used to hearing that it causes them no great difficulty. They continue to ask questions, looking for understanding, especially understanding they can be comfortable with. What is my attitude when I question Our Lord about events and challenges in my life? Am I seeking to understand so I can embrace God's plan better, or does my response depend on how much I comprehend?
2. Opening Our Horizons: Now Jesus has said something truly shocking. He wants them to eat his flesh and drink his blood! Up to this point, most of the crowd has been willing to accept him as a bread-provider. He fed them yesterday. Maybe, if they hang around long enough, he will do it again. Their ideas about the Messiah are too materialistic, based only on the re-establishment of David's Kingdom at the expense of the Romans. Jesus, on the other hand, wants to take them to a new level. He wants to take them into the mystery of the loving generosity of God. As good as the manna in the wilderness was, he wants to give something much better. As wonderful as David's Kingdom was, he wants to give a greater kingdom. This is so far beyond what they are looking for, they will not be able to understand what he is offering. It will have to be accepted in faith.
3. Great Gifts Come in Small Packages: We can understand many things, even many spiritual things. In his goodness, God has given us intelligence so that we can understand some of the truths about him. But these simpler truths don't reveal the full glory of God. They are not as fulfilling as some of the more important truths about him. Jesus wants to give his flesh to eat and his blood to drink. He reveals this to the crowds, and since they lack faith, they don't understand. Some straggle off to find another "wonder-worker". Others, looking for understanding, go off to look for a "teacher" who makes sense to them. Hopefully, some are looking for the revelation of the mysteries of God, the greatest gifts that God can offer. They are not looking to fill their stomachs or their minds. They are looking to fill their hearts. These are the kinds of gifts that Jesus intends to give – and in abundance.
Conversation with Christ: Dear Lord, so often I am looking for material gifts from you. Help me to realize that the greatest gifts you give may be beyond my understanding. Yet, if I am willing to accept them on faith, they will fill my heart. Perhaps with time, it will be possible for me to understand something of them as well, but greatness of faith lies in my trusting in you.
Resolution: What spiritual gift I am most in need of? Faith? Charity? Humility? Something else? Today I will set aside some time to ask God in prayer to grant me that gift.