Faced with shock and doubt, Jesus says that the words he has spoken are given by the Son of Man (the human one) who will return to God’s presence. That is, they possess divine authority. Somewhat enigmaticallyhaving just urged people to eat his fleshhe says, It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail and that his words are Spirit and life. John plays here on the double meaning of flesh, using it here in a negative sense as a way of viewing the world influenced by human expectations and human prejudices. Spirit is openness to God’s revelation and in that sense gives life, just as God’s creative Spirit gave life to the world and his Spirit inspired Moses and the prophets.
Many of Jesus’ disciples return to their former life, and he turns to the Twelve and asks if they want to leave. Beyond problems with church teaching and practice, beyond active engagement in social concern and even personal struggles, there is Jesus present saying, Do you want also to leave? This is acutely symbolic of the choices facing people on their religious journey. Even the most profound revelation of Jesus, that he is God’s wisdom for humanity and that all who eat his flesh and drink his blood will have fullness of life, does not take away the mystery of human freedom. God’s gifts are extraordinary and inviting, but when faced with them, people can return to their former life. Amid often conflicting claims about what it means to be a Catholic today, we must hear Peter’s words to Jesus resounding through the centuries: To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
·Read again John 6, reflecting on how these “words” of Jesus are Spirit and life.
·The one who believes already possesses “eternal life.” Think in prayer about how faith leads us to a fullness of life.
·Ask in prayer with Peter, “To whom shall we go?”