With this gospel passage we come to the end of the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John, which we have been reading over the last several weeks. The followers of Jesus are said to be struggling with his teaching in the dialogue with the Jews which follows the working of the sign of the feeding of the five thousand. Jesus has spoken of himself as the ‘bread of life’. Early in the chapter this referred to his life-giving teaching, but in the later verses Jesus began to speak of people eating his flesh and drinking his blood, in a clear allusion to the Eucharist. It seems to be this teaching about the Eucharist that is difficult for some of his followers to accept.
There is a contrast here between the followers of Jesus and the chosen Twelve. It is the Twelve who are then challenged by Jesus: ‘Do you want to go away too?’ One can understand the perplexity of the ordinary followers, but from those who have been with Jesus throughout the ministry greater insight and greater fidelity might be expected. The response of Peter comes in a firm commitment to Jesus: ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.’ This speech of Peter, his profession of faith in the name of the others, recalls the reading from the Book of Joshua, in which the people newly arrived in the promised land renew their covenant commitment to be the people of God: ‘We too will serve the Lord, for he is our God.’
Do I appreciate that the words of Jesus are truly words of life?
What has this chapter of John’s gospel taught me?
We thank God for the gift of his Son, who is our Bread of Life.
We pray for those who have never known the words of eternal life, nor had the opportunity to commit themselves to the service of God.