Holding Fast to the Hard Saying

Third Saturday of Paschaltide
Food%20of%20Humility.jpg
Acts 9:31-42
Psalm 115: 12-13, 14-15, 16-17
John 6: 60-69

A Eucharistic Lectio Divina
If in your lectio divina this past week, you submitted to the guidance of the Church and opened yourself to the brightness shining from the sixth chapter of Saint John, the Eucharist has been at the heart of your reading, your repeating, your prayer, and your contemplation. This Third Week of Paschaltide was a kind of Eucharistic retreat. How well did we live it? It is not too late to claim today the Eucharistic graces reserved for us by our Lord for this week of listening to His discourse on the Bread of Life.

Peter Confessing the Mystery

In his Encyclical on the Eucharist, the Servant of God Pope John Paul II gave us a commentary on today’s Gospel. This is what he said: “Here is the Church’s treasure, the heart of the world, the pledge of the fulfillment for which each man and woman, even unconsciously, yearns. A great and transcendent mystery, indeed, and one that taxes our mind’s ability to pass beyond appearances. Here our senses fail us: visus, tactus, gustus in te fallitur, in the words of the hymn Adoro Te Devote; yet faith alone, rooted in the word of Christ handed down to us by the Apostles, is sufficient for us. Allow me, like Peter at the end of the Eucharistic discourse in John’s Gospel, to say once more to Christ, in the name of the whole Church and in the name of each of you: ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life’ (Jn 6:68).”

Peter Addressing Christ

Christ spoke, revealing the astonishing mystery of the Eucharist. Peter responded. It is Peter’s response addressed to Christ that is the first manifestation of his place in the plan of God for the Church. Peter addressing Christ necessarily precedes Peter addressing the world, and this in all times and places. In the Mass, the Church does something similar. After the words of consecration, the priest intones “Mystery of Faith.” Mysterium fidei: a seal placed on all that has been said and done up to this point. The response of the praying Church is a confession of the mystery addressed directly to Christ really present: “We proclaim your death, O Lord, and profess your resurrection until you come.”

Peter’s Mission
When many say, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” (Jn 6:60), it is Peter’s mission to remain, holding fast even to the hard saying, to the scandalous proposition of Eucharistic love, to the shock of flesh given as food and blood given as drink. When Christ reveals not only the mystery of “living bread which came down from heaven” (Jn 6:51), but also that of His Ascension — “the Son of Man ascending where He was before” (Jn 6:62) — it is Peter’s mission to remain, confessing Christ hidden in the Eucharist and Christ hidden in the glory of the Father (cf. Col 3:1-4).

The Faith of the Church
The post-Pentecostal Peter, Peter addressing the nations, remains, at every moment in history, Peter standing face to face with Christ, apart from all in a terrible solitude, and united to all in a mystical communion. Peter is, in every age, ready to answer for the twelve, and compelled to speak the Eucharistic faith of the Church. “Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you also wish to go away?’ Simon Peter answered Him. ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God’” (Jn 6:67-69).

Fall Silent and Adore
In every age Peter stands facing Christ and speaking for all of us. Our communion with the faith of Peter is in humble adhesion to his response to the “bread which came down from heaven” (Jn 6:58). Mysterium fidei. “Christ, Bread of Life, we have believed and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God” (Jn 6:69). And then, it remains for us always to fall silent and to adore.

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