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Acquiring Spiritual Vision
Saturday of the Third Week of Easter
Memorial of St. Athanasius, Bishop, Doctor, Martyr
Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.” As a result of this, many [of] his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”
Opening Prayer: Dear Lord, I unite myself to you today in prayer. I come to you thirsty for your truth, hungry for your mercy. I ask you to quench the thirst of my soul through the light of your revealed word and to satisfy my hunger with the gift of your forgiveness, mercy, and love.
- “No One Can Come to Me Unless It Is Granted Him by My Father”: The Father gave Christ to us through the Incarnation, so that Christ’s life and sacrifice can become an ongoing source of spiritual renewal for us. The Father’s gift of faith enables us to heed not only the voice of Jesus, but to follow him, to suffer for him, and to accept the extraordinary invitation to “eat his flesh and drink his blood.” The Father has given us everything we need to come to Christ. He asks only that we open our hearts to accept the gift of his Son.
- “To Whom Shall We Go?”: Jesus had just proclaimed that his flesh was food and his blood was drink, and he knew these words were shocking to the ears of disciples who had not yet received the Eucharist at the Last Supper. Truly, many were so scandalized they lost their faith in Jesus and “returned to their former way of life.” But not Peter and his close friends. What fortitude! What faithfulness! What love they showed! We know that sometimes following Christ can make us uncomfortable. We stand alone in a crowd. We endure the murmuring of others. We feel like quitting. In those moments when our faith feels wobbly, may we have the grace of Peter to pray with all humility, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
- Faith and Conviction: “We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.” Notice Peter did not say to Christ “We believe,” but, “We have come to believe.” Perhaps he was implying that these words of Jesus challenged even the faith of the apostles. Over their three years of close association with Christ, the apostles had matured in faith. Christ had taught them to think spiritually, step by step. Our spirits long to share the mind of Christ, to see and understand the spiritual realities of our world. Are we willing to accompany Christ closely? Are we willing to allow ourselves to be taught by him, even when we are confused for the moment by what we learn?
Conversing with Christ: Lord, when so many leave and abandon you, I desire to remain faithfully by your side, but my faith is also weak. It is easy for me to become confused. Please strengthen me in faith, hope, and love.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will take some time to ponder a situation in life that is hard for me, or a doctrine of the Church that I do not fully understand, and ask you to enlighten my mind and help me to come to believe that which you proclaim as truth.
For Further Reflection: Check out this video by Bishop Barron on the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist or go straight to Athanasius, whose feast day it is. He is an easy read and it costs only 99 cents for a Kindle copy of his book, On the Incarnation.
Written by Renee Pomarico, CRC