{a correction and apologies = at the start of the reflection for the 19th Sunday I stated in the opening paragraph that John was starting to develop his Eucharistic understanding that would be developed in the following two Sundays. At that time I overlooked the fact the readings for the Sunday immediately following would be replaced by those allocated for our celebration of the Assumption. We have, therefore, missed out on John’s clear picture of the Eucharist itself being about the Food of Life – the Body and Blood of Jesus on its own, besides the essential connection with the good that comes from the Word of God}

Let us start this week’s reflection by firmly accepting that if we seek logical and totally rational explanations for our Christian-Catholic faith then we will be disappointed. Faith, however, is not irrational even if, in many respects, it is a step into the unknown. It is a

CHOICE we make, and it must be made in and with the mind. This choice will, eventually bring our hearts along with it. Yes, there is a mystery involved – but there are countless other mysteries accepted even by those who remain cynical, agnostic or atheistic. How many people alive this day fail to believe (have faith?!) that the sun will rise tomorrow morning? This fact is accepted on rational grounds but complete certainty has to be lacking.

Today’s GOSPEL READING [JOHN 6: 60 – 69] has been seen as John’s description of a crisis of faith. However, when we link it with today’s OLD TESTAMENT READING [JOSHUA 24: 1 – 2a. 15 – 17. 18b] we must notice the clear emphasis on PERSONAL CHOICE. Jesus faces the disciples and challenges them directly “Will you also go away?” Joshua senses a hesitancy among the people, and presents them with a similar challenge – “If you be unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve.”

Today’s Gospel extract provides us with the opportunity for witnessing the drama and division Jesus’ teaching caused – even among the disciples ….. some are unable to fully believe and accept the deeper meaning of Jesus’ words.{source: ADRIEN NOCENT: The Liturgical Year: Volume 3: Page 248: Liturgical Press} In the opening paragraph of this reflection we made reference to the element of mystery involved in faith. This is precisely why in every celebration of the Eucharist we are challenged to express and acknowledge “THE MYSTERY OF FAITH.”

When the chips are down Peter’s response as recorded in our Gospel extract is the basic choice – “Lord, to whom shall we go?” What he goes on to say emphasises the truth of Jesus’ words – words in which we believe. The moment these essentials are overlooked or jettisoned we enter into troubled waters. What we must also not forget is the truth outlined by Saint Paul in TODAY’S SECOND READING [EPHESIANS 5: 21 – 32]. There the apostle makes an essential link between CHRIST and the CHURCH. The Church is “his body, and is himself its Saviour.”

Most of the time, against all the odds, the Church presents the Body of Christ in a favourable and effective manner. Often It fails miserably to do so. In addition there are periods during which this beloved Church of ours manages to effectively disguise itself in the scandalous and horrific behaviour of some members – even among prominent and supposedly authoritative leaders. We are all hurt by these failures, are appalled, ashamed, reel, question and feel betrayed. I have a sense that some of us may feel this way in the present time. So, I pass on to you thoughts from a book I have been reading and quoted to you during these weeks of Mark’s record of the Gospel. {This Transforming Word: ALICE CAMILLE: Vol. B: Page 166: ACTA PUBLICATIONS.}

“The Church’s teachings aren’t contemporary enough. The leadership seems flawed. The liturgy needs work. The community is … just a bunch of sinners. If you bundled all your grievances against the Church into a handkerchief and tied it to a stick and got ready to walk, just where would you be going? Most people who walk away in anger have only their anger for company …(and) still carry that handkerchief of outrage around with them, dangling from the stick. … But those who stayed with him and his words … got past the cross and all the way to Easter.”

Remember what was said in the opening paragraph of this reflection – It is a CHOICE we make, and it must be made in and with the mind. This choice will, eventually bring our heart along with it.

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