Today is the conclusion of the readings from the sixth chapter of the Gospel of St John, with the discourse on the “Bread of Life,” proclaimed by Jesus on the day after the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. At the end of that discourse, the great enthusiasm of the day before faded, because Jesus had said He was the Bread come down from heaven, and that He would give His Flesh as food and His Blood as drink, clearly alluding to the sacrifice of His very life. These words provoked disappointment in the people, who considered them unworthy of the Messiah, not “winning.” That’s how some saw Jesus: as a Messiah who ought to speak and act in such a way that His mission would be successful, immediately! But they erred precisely in this: in manner of understanding the mission of the Messiah! Even the disciples failed to accept that language, that disturbing language of the Master. And today’s passage refers to their discomfort: “This saying is hard,” they said, “Who can accept it?” (John 6:60).In reality, they understood well the discourse of Jesus—so well that they did not want to hear it, because it is a discourse that undermines their mindset. The Words of Jesus always discomfort us; discomfort us, for example, with regard to the spirit of the world, of worldliness. But Jesus offers the key to overcome the difficulty; a key made of three elements. First, His divine origin: He is come down from heaven and will rise up “to where He was before” (v. 62). Second: His words can only be understood through the action of the Holy Spirit, He “who gives life” (v. 63). It is precisely the Holy Spirit that makes us understand Jesus well. Third: the true cause of misunderstanding of His words is lack of faith: “Among you there are some who do not believe” (v. 64), Jesus says. In fact, from that point, “many of His disciples turned back” (v. 66). In the face of these defections, Jesus does not take back or soften His words, in fact, He forces us to make a clear choice—either to remain with Him or to separate ourselves from Him—and He says to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” (v. 67).At this point Peter makes his confession of faith in the name of the other Apostles: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (v. 68). He does not say “where shall we go?” but “to whom shall we go?” The fundamental problem is not leaving and abandoning the work that has been undertaken, but rather “to whom” to go. From that question of Peter, we understand that faithfulness to God is a question of faithfulness to a person, with whom we are joined in order to walk together along the same road. All that we have in the world does not satisfy our hunger for the infinite. We need Jesus, to remain with Him, to nourish ourselves at His table, on His words of eternal life! To believe in Jesus means making Him the centre, the meaning of our life. Christ is not an accessory element: He is the “living bread,” the indispensable nourishment. Attaching ourselves to Him, in a true relationship of faith and love, does not mean being chained, but [rather] profoundly free, always on a journey.Each one of us can ask himself, right now, “Who is Jesus for me? Is He a name? an idea? Is He simply a person from history? Or is He really the person Who loves me, Who gave His life for me and walks with me?” Who is Jesus for you? Do you remain with Jesus? Do you seek to know Him in His word? Do you read the Gospel every day, a passage from the Gospel in order to know Jesus? Do you carry the little Gospel in your pocket, in your bag, in order to read it everywhere. Because the more we are with Him the more the desire to remain with Him grows. Now I kindly ask you, let us take a moment of silence, and each one of us, in silence, in his or her heart, ask yourself the question: “Who is Jesus for me?” In silence, everyone answer in his or her heart. “Who is Jesus for me?”[A moment of silence.]May the Virgin Mary help us always “to go” to Jesus in order to experience the freedom that He offers us, and that allows us to purify our choices from worldly incrustations and fear.
Monday, August 24, 2015
"Who is Jesus for me?"
Ave Maria! The Gospel for yesterday, the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, was John 6:60-69. Below is Pope Francis' Angelus address for yesterday, a powerful reflection on this Gospel passage. "Who is Jesus for me?" the Holy Father asks. Today I will pray about this and ponder anew the One to whom I have pledged my truth. Is it really You, Lord?