TODAY’S FIRST READING (Acts 9:31-42)
When [Peter] arrived, they took him to the room upstairsActs 9:39b
where all the widows came to him weeping
and showing him the tunics and cloaks
that Dorcas had made while she was with them.
What a lovely detail we have here about this woman who had just died. This very much humanizes the scene and draws the reader into it. It was said that “[s]he was completely occupied with good deeds and almsgiving.” Imagine the great care she took in making garments and what lovely distinctive details she must have incorporated in them that made her friends go out of their way to share them with Peter. I picture a pretty young woman, quiet, hard-working, a model Christian, who all around her bemoaned a death that happened far too soon. We are invited to mourn as well. And Peter must have been cut to the core. He quickly turns to prayer, having seen his Lord raise the dead, he asks this favor as well for this poor woman. His faith, now much larger than a mustard seed, effects the resuscitation of the much beloved Dorcas (meaning “gazelle”) and through this act many come to Christianity.
TODAY’S RESPONSORIAL PSALM (Ps 116:12-17)
How shall I make a return to the Lord for all the good he has done for me?Ps 116:12
One need go no further than this response itself to have fruit for meditation for a lifetime. First, what return can I make to the Lord? He doesn’t need anything from us, but we need to show our gratitude. In prayer, of course. But also in how we treat others. What do we do for God? Jesus tells us: “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Mt 25:40). So, there we have it. What we are to give to the Lord is our treatment of others. A “return” on His investment in us: creating us, redeeming us, and sanctifying us.
Second, do I realize the good He has done for me? Well, I just mentioned what the Triune God has done in the last sentence above. Everything we have, except our sin, comes from God. We have no reason to exalt ourselves — true humility. So we are to offer everything back to Him. Paradoxically, the more we give, the more we get. In this life, peace of soul. In the next life, eternal glory.
TODAY’S GOSPEL (Jn 6:60-69)
As a result of this, many [of] his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.Jn 6:66
It is not uncommon for commenters and speakers to note that the chapter and verse in which many disciples abandon Jesus is 6:66. Certainly, that day, Satan, must have felt a great measure of pride in this event. Maybe he was working overtime to cause this division. Maybe he saw this as one of those “opportune” moments he was looking for since the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, hoping to either break Jesus or have Him water down His message. Well, Jesus was ready to have all abandon Him rather than compromise on the truth. Are we able to say the same?
In addition, it was in regards to the Eucharist that this cleavage occurs. Lest anyone think that the Eucharist is not really Jesus’ Real Presence or that it is not very important, consider what Jesus was willing to give up for the sake of this reality? Are we willing to do the same?
One final note. Peter responds to Jesus when Jesus invites him to leave:
Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.Jn 6:68
How are we to attain eternal life if we do not know the Word and His words? St. Jerome famously said, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” There is no excuse for anyone reading this to be ignorant of the Bible. As St. Augustine was told, “Take and read.”
MORE VIRUS STUFF
An excellent article from a few weeks back from a doctor who provides objective data on our experience of the last thirteen months or so:
Do COVID-19 Restrictions Serve the Common Good?