“This saying is hard; who can accept it?”

The gospel reading from Sunday (Jn 6:60-69) is the resulting questioning of the climax of the Bread of Life discourse.  Not comprehending Jesus’ strong emphasis on the necessity of eating His flesh and blood, many disciples murmur the words at top.  Jesus, knowing their hearts, speaks of His ascension, the power of the Spirit, and the power of His words.  Nevertheless, many disciples leave Him to return to their former way of life.  When Jesus asks the Twelve if they will be following the others, Peter speaks for all of them saying that they will stay because Jesus has the words of everlasting life and they believe Him to be from God.  Certainly many Christians, including Catholics, find Jesus’ words in this discourse hard to accept.  The doctrine of the Real Presence, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ, in a small wafer and a few drops of liquid is preposterous or even blasphemous to those who do not believe in transubstantiation.  Yet Jesus is willing to lose even His closest followers (who are His friends also — cf. Jn 15:15) over this because it is so very important.  Jesus reaffirms this teaching and manifests it at the Last Supper (Mt 26:26-28).  A hard saying?  It can be (“Faith for all defects supplying, where the feeble senses fail” — Tantum Ergo).  Can we accept it?  We must.  To whom else can we go?  Jesus, in Word and Sacrament, are necessary for eternal life.

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