When Faith is Challenged

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Readings for Today

Saint John Eudes, Priest – Optional Memorial

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.”  John 6:52-56

Not only is this a powerful teaching on the Most Holy Eucharist, it is also a powerful teaching on how we approach the opposition of others.  Jesus could see that His teaching about His Body and Blood was causing quite a commotion.  So what did He do?  Did He back down and act in a “politically correct” way trying to ease tensions?  Not in the least.  Instead, He deepened and clarified His pure and holy teaching on the Eucharist.  “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you do not have life within you.”  Whoa. 

For us hearing this today, it may not be as shocking as it was at that time.  It’s important that we try to understand the context of this situation so as to get a good picture of what was happening.  Jesus offered the greatest gift ever known to humanity.  He offered Himself sacramentally in the form of the bread and wine.  This could only be accepted by faith.  Those who listened had to discern in their hearts that what Jesus was telling them was true.  They had to discern this truth as a matter of faith.  Those who did accept it most likely did not fully understand what Jesus meant, but they believed anyway.  Those without faith dismissed His teaching and considered Him to be crazy.

This is the context of Jesus’ continued teaching.  In the face of both strong opposition from some, and an acceptance in faith on the part of others, He chose to nourish those with faith and ignore those who were critical. 

The same happens with us.  When we begin to manifest the beginnings of faith in our hearts, Jesus sees our faith, nourishes it and helps it to grow.  For our part, we must seek to let that seed of faith which has been planted to also be nourished so that it will grow stronger.

As our faith grows, we will also be given the strength and conviction that Jesus had, and we will be able to ignore the ridicule and foolishness of those around us.  We will not give in to the politics and manipulation of our times; rather, we will daily deepen our convictions and allow them to shine forth.

Reflect, today, upon any way that you face the difficult situation of having your faith challenged.  The more you live your faith and love it openly, the more you will stand out and face the possibility of persecution.  Are you ready to join our Lord in staying strong in the face of all that tries to squelch the beauty of your faith?

Lord, help me to be strong and confident in You.  Help me to hear You and respond to Your whisperings of truth and love.  In the face of doubt and dysfunction, help me to bring Your words of new life.  Jesus, I trust in You.

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Saint of the Day – Saint John Eudes