This Saying is Hard

In yesterday’s Gospel, Jesus says the hard saying: “Unless you eat of the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you do not have life within you.”

These words, if we think about them, are still hard to hear, because they go beyond our reason and understanding. We ask, as the Jews did, “How can this be?” How can it be that God is present under the appearances of Bread and Wine in the Eucharist?

Jesus knows it is hard, but he also knows it is not the only hard thing for us to accept with our human minds and hearts. “Does this shock you? What if there are even more shocking things? And yet, this is Truth, this is Spirit and Life if you believe it. You have to see with the heart to understand this; you have to open your spirit to the limitlessness of my love and desire for you to begin to grasp this; you have to accept that my ways are not your ways, and that I am not limited by human understanding. If all that I am and all I long to do for you were to fit into the confines of your skull, I would be very small. But I am Who am. Before Abraham was, I am. I am infinite and eternal. And I can do things that you cannot grasp, except with the heart.”

Jesus wants us all to open ourselves radically to His Truth and His Love, just as he wanted to Apostles, his close friends and collaborators on earth, to accept all he had planned for them. And he knew it was hard for them (especially before Pentecost) and so he asks them, as others are walking away from him in disappointment: “Do you also want to leave?” He does not try to explain it all right now, he does not plead with them; he merely poses the question. And Simon Peter, often the first to respond, does not assert that they all understand or that this is easy for them to accept. He makes an act of faith, a sign of his willingness to accept whatever Jesus tells them, beyond reason and understanding: “You have the words of eternal life…you are the Holy One of God.”

What about us? When the things that we use to make sense of things stop making sense, to whom do we go? Are we open to all that the Lord longs to give us, even when we don’t understand the reasons, or see how it will go, or why it will be good? Do we walk away from the Lord in search of something that will satisfy our reason? Or do we remain with Him in trust, even when things make no sense to us? With Peter, we can say, “We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God,” and remain with Him in loving trust.

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Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including newly ordained Father Rob and seminarian Luke ;-), and two grandchildren. She is a Secular Discalced Carmelite and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 25 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE. Currently, she serves the Church as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio, by publishing and speaking, and by collaborating with the diocesan Office of Catechesis, various parishes, and other ministries to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is