Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle B

Twenty First Sunday in Ordinary Time

 John 6. 60-69

"You have the message of eternal life"

This week's Gospel passage concludes the readings from chapter six of the Gospel according to John. Again Jesus' words are greeted with unbelief but he does not back down. Jesus insists that people cannot gain life with God by their own effort. He is the source of divine revelation, bread come down from heaven, to nourish people, and give them eternal life. His words "are spirit and they are life". Those who believe and accept his words will receive the life-giving Spirit. What is more, he insists, to believe him and accept him is itself a gift of God, for "no one can come to me unless the Father allows him".

This confrontation with the crowd was a turning point in the life of Jesus. From this time many disciples left him. Following Jesus brings conditions not accepted by all. This caused him to ask the Twelve: "Do you want to leave as well?" Better to face the matter clearly: are you truly with me in all that I stand for or simply hanging on to me? For them too, this was a moment of critical importance, a moment of decision. It parallels the question Jesus asked in Matthew's account of the Gospel: "Who do you say I am?" And here as there, it is Peter who speaks on behalf of the rest: "Lord, who shall we go to? You have the message of eternal life and we believe."

Our faith today rests on their faith in the beginning. In the first Eucharistic Prayer we pray "for all who hold and teach the catholic faith that comes to us from the apostles". With them we believe that Jesus is “the Holy One of God”, the Word of God made flesh, the Son of God who died on the cross and was raised from the dead for our salvation. There are many faiths in evidence around us, many alternative approaches to the meaning and purpose of life, many different life-styles to choose from. With Peter we may well ask “who shall we go to?” It is by God’s grace that we are able to believe with him and the apostles that Jesus is the Holy One of God and that he has the message of eternal life.