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Do You Also Want to Leave?
Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
Many of Jesus’s 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: Lord, you know my deepest longings and desires. You know that I come now to prayer, seeking you, despite my busyness, concerns, and distractions in my heart and mind. I lay them down at your feet. I ask you to look on me with love and dissipate anything that could come between you and me during this time of prayer. Let me abide in your love and open my heart and mind to receive you.
- “This Saying Is Hard, Who Can Accept It?”: Understanding the mysteries of our faith is hard. Living it out is even more challenging. Our reason doesn’t always allow for belief, and we don’t always feel God’s presence when we go to receive the Eucharist. We are not only challenged by our world; even our own senses of sight, taste, and touch deceive us as we contemplate this mystery of God made man, present in the Eucharistic bread. And even if we do believe in the Eucharist, we often get distracted and forget the great gift that Christ offers us on the altar in every Mass. Just as the disciples struggled with this teaching of Jesus, so too do we grapple with understanding the incredible grace given to us each time we go to Communion.
- “Do You Also Want to Leave?”: Jesus’s heart must have broken when he saw his disciples of three years walk away, struggling to comprehend and open their hearts to understand the mystery he presented. He looked to his closest apostles, Peter and the others, hoping that they wouldn’t do the same. Jesus chooses to need others, to need friends. Jesus also knows the difficulties we face in truly believing in his Eucharistic presence. But he longs for us to stay with him. He loves it when we stay. He chooses us to be his close friends. He yearns to come into our hearts at every Mass.
- “Master, to Whom Shall We Go?”: “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord,” Joshua told the people in the first reading for this Sunday’s Mass as invited the Israelites to make a definitive choice—to follow God or to walk away. He chose the Lord. Peter, reflecting on his three years of friendship with Jesus, answered the same, “Master, to whom shall we go?” As hard as it was to understand the Master’s teachings, it was worth it to Peter to stay by Jesus’s side. Peter didn’t know where this choice would lead him, but he trusted that if he followed Jesus, he would receive the grace to respond to whatever came. What is our response? We know that to follow God is worth any sacrifice.
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, you love it when I choose to stay by your side. Grant me that grace to always believe in your true presence in the Eucharist. Help me to experience your longing for friendship with me. You tell us that no one can come to you unless it is granted by your Father. Give me that grace. Make me a true authentic friend, faithful to the end.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will look for an opportunity to go to Mass or visit a tabernacle, renewing my heartfelt desire to be close to you.
For Further Reflection: In light of choosing to stay with Christ, reflect more on Joshua’s words from today’s first reading (Joshua 24:15-18).
Lisa Small was consecrated to God within Regnum Christi in 2001, is the Communications Director for the Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi in North America, and is the National Formation Director for the Regnum Christi Mission Corps.
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