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”It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery

In today’s Gospel (John 6:60-69), we find ourselves in the immediate aftermath of Jesus’ pivotal Bread of Life discourse, wherein many of those on hand were perplexed over this mysterious teaching. Murmuring would ensue, as would defections, compelling Jesus to take stock of what would be left of his fledgling church.

“Do you also want to leave?” Jesus asks those who remained. In posing this question, the Son of God makes Himself vulnerable to the reality that he may lose the very foundation, the twelve pillars that He is poised to build His burgeoning church upon. But it is in this moment that Peter delivers perhaps his most important, most powerful, and faith-filled words in all of Scripture. “Master, to whom shall we go?” he asks rather rhetorically, going on to proclaim “You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

In his Essay Hard Sayings, Father Paul Scalia asserts that the difficulty those in Jesus’ midst had with this teaching was not one of intellectual or understanding, but instead of a spiritual variety. Afterall, as Father Scalia points out, Jesus had already clarified his teaching several times. I would add that Jesus would never allow his followers to fall away over a misunderstanding. This would fly blatantly in the face of his desire that all would be nourished by the Bread of Life and subsequently saved. As Father Scalia goes on to explain, “They were unwilling to accept what He taught because then they would have to change their lives. He was inviting them to yield their earth-bound view to His supernatural truths: “It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail.” (John 6:63) They intuited what His words meant: If this teaching was true, they would have to change their lives accordingly. So, they balked. Even after witnessing His miracles and signs, they still could not entrust themselves to His teaching. “As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.” (Jn 6:66).

Far too many today have done the same.

It can hardly be a coincidence that this “walking away” from Jesus and the Eucharist is captured and recorded in John 6:66. This is Satan’s delight, that many would abandon the divine sustenance that is the Holy Eucharist. How much easier a spiritually malnourished soul is to steal, one that forgoes this heavenly and divine Sacrament. In the Eucharist we receive Jesus, fully alive, the fully transcendent God who seeks to transform us, his very presence coursing through our veins and transforming us, reducing one’s stony hearts to rubble, replacing it with a new heart and a new spirit (Ezekiel 36:26).

We have this pesky tendency to substitute ourselves for God, failing to remember that we are on a pilgrimage of faith which, when lived properly, leads us to fullness of life through Jesus Christ. Through Jesus we find the fullness and richness of all things. The fullness of the Godhead is in Jesus alone. He renews all that is good within us., all that has fallen due to original sin. Our relationships deepen when united in Christ. Marriages, family life, even our work and leisure activities have more meaning when ordered to the Kingdom. Yes, even our sufferings are redemptive and have meaning when ordered to Jesus, the Son of the Heavenly Father. Jesus is, simply put, the way to renewal.

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Our Church celebrated the Memorial of a truly prolific Pope yesterday in the great Saint Pius X , a man who, among other things was a staunch supporter of daily reception of the Holy Eucharist. I leave you with one of his more famous quotes, uttered on behalf of the Sacrament he so loved:

"Holy Communion is the shortest and safest way to Heaven. There are others: innocence, but that is for little children; penance, but we are afraid of it; generous endurance of trials of life, but when they come we weep and ask to be. The surest, easiest, shortest way is the Eucharist."

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