The Bread of Life Discourse ends today (Jn 6:60-69) as Jesus gets the response above from His disciples (not just the general public). “As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.”
It strikes me that the core of so many of the problems the Church is currently facing within its own ranks has to do with lack of faith in or seriousness about that which caused Jesus to lose so many of His most engaged followers: the Eucharist. If one really believes that Jesus offers Himself body, blood, soul, and divinity in Holy Communion, how could that person: not enter the Catholic Church, stay away from Mass, leave the Catholic Church, or, most pertinent to these times, betray the faithful?
At least the honest disciples in today’s reading walked away. Judas did not (Jn 6:70-71 — sadly these verses did not make the lectionary), waiting to do his “shuffle” at the Last Supper in order to betray the Lord (Jn 13:27).
It is time for the Judases, the dishonest members of the hierarchy, to return to their former way of life, i.e., pre-ministry, rather than staying on and continuing to betray the Lord by betraying His Church, harming and scandalizing the People of God.
Paul, today (Eph 5:21-32), speaks of the proper disposition of the husband (the priest’s “bride” is the Church):
Husbands, love your wives,
even as Christ loved the church
and handed himself over for her to sanctify her,
cleansing her by the bath of water with the word,
that he might present to himself the church in splendor,
without spot or wrinkle or any such thing,
that she might be holy and without blemish.
How did Christ love the Church? He died so that it might be born from His side. This is the proper disposition of the priest to that which is entrusted to him by virtue of his ordination.
Even the first reading, from Joshua (Jos 24:1-2a, 15-17, 18b), gives us a word that needs to be taken to heart (by all of us) in these days:
Therefore we also will serve the LORD, for he is our God.
Authentic service to God, for the ordained man, means caring for His flock above all.
As for the rest of us, prayer and penance is a must. Not only for those involved in the most egregious sins of which we have come to learn, but for ourselves, as well. “Physician, heal thyself” (Lk 4:23). Reform starts at home. Remember, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”
Pray for priests, bishops, and the pope, that all will do the right thing in the eyes of Christ and for the sake of His Body, the Church.