Let us trust in him who has placed this burden upon us. What we ourselves cannot bear, let us bear with the help of Christ. For he is all-powerful, and he tells us: "My yoke is easy, and my burden light." - Saint Boniface
(Gospel Text: Jn 6:60-69)
Many of Jesus' disciples who were listening said,
"This saying is hard; who can accept it?"
Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this,
he said to them, "Does this shock you?
What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending
to where he was before?
It is the spirit that gives life,
while the flesh is of no avail.
The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life.
But there are some of you who do not believe."
Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe
and the one who would betray him.
And he said,
"For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me
unless it is granted him by my Father."
As a result of this,
many of his disciples returned to their former way of life
and no longer accompanied him.
Jesus then said to the Twelve, "Do you also want to leave?"
Simon Peter answered him, "Master, to whom shall we go?
You have the words of eternal life.
We have come to believe
and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God."
What was “this saying” that the people could not accept?
It was Jesus’ words that we needed to eat his flesh and drink his blood. You can understand how, if taken too literally, such a statement would turn people away. But Jesus wasn’t speaking about ritual cannibalism. He wasn’t inviting people to take a bite out of his arm. No, he was talking sacramentally. He was pointing to the time when they would experience his presence deeply as they gathered to celebrate his death and resurrection. He was pointing to the way he would be present in the bread that they broke and the wine that they shared.
Why was this so hard to hear?
In part, because the people took him too literally. But it was also hard because Jesus was telling the people how generous God was. There was no “work” that they had to do (John 6:28-29). They didn’t need to go looking for a new Moses. They just needed to come and receive. God would provide for them, just as he— not Moses—fed their ancestors with manna in the desert (6:32).
This is probably one of the biggest challenges that we all face, the challenge to let go and simply receive from God. It’s never easy to give up control, but God promises that as we do, he will take over and enable us to do things that we could never do on our own. Our fallen nature wants to dictate the terms of our relationship with God, but the Holy Spirit wants to show us how much more exciting and fulfilling it is when we surrender to him and let him lead us.
If you are finding it hard to let go of something right now, just remember the One who is asking for this surrender: Jesus Christ, the Holy One of God (John 6:69).
He won’t lead you astray.