October 24 - Teartith Sunday in ordinary time YearB

October 22nd, 2021

First Reading   Jeremiah 31:7-9
The Lord declares himself to be the Father of Israel.

 

Responsorial Psalm   Psalm 126:1-2,2-3,4-5,6
A song of praise to God who does great things

 

Second Reading   Hebrews 5:1-6
Christ was made high priest by God.

 

Gospel Reading
Mark 10:46-52
Jesus restores sight to the blind man, Bartimaeus

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today we continue to read from Mark’s Gospel. In this Gospel, we find evidence of Jesu’ fame in the sizable crowd that accompanies him as he journeys to Jerusalem. Jesus’ reputation as a healer has preceded him. When the blind man, Bartimaeus, hears that Jesus of Nazareth is passing by, he calls out to him, asking for his pity.

When Bartimaeus calls out to Jesus, the crowd around him tries to silence him. Yet Bartimaeus persists, calling out more loudly and with greater urgency. He will not be silenced or deterred from getting Jesus’ attention. We notice how quickly the crowd’s reaction changes when Jesus calls for Bartimaeus. Those who sought to quiet him now encourage him.

When Jesus restores Bartimaeus’s sight, no elaborate action is required. (In other healing stories in Mark’s Gospel, actions accompany Jesus’ words). In this instance, Jesus simply says that Bartimaeus’s faith has saved him. Throughout Mark’s Gospel, the success of Jesus’ healing power has often been correlated with the faith of the person requesting Jesus’ help. For example, it is because of her faith that the woman with the hemorrhage is healed. When faith is absent, Jesus is unable to heal; we see this after his rejection in Nazareth.

Once his sight has been restored, Bartimaeus follows Jesus on his way to Jerusalem. In Mark’s Gospel, Bartimaeus is the last disciple called by Jesus before he enters Jerusalem. Bartimaeus hears that Jesus of Nazareth is passing by, but he calls out to Jesus using words of faith—“Son of David.” Many in Jesus’ time believed that the anticipated Jewish Messiah would be a descendent of King David. Bartimaeus’s words prepare us for the final episodes of Mark’s Gospel, which begin with Jesus’ preparation for the Passover and his triumphant entry into Jerusalem. As Mark has shown us in our readings over the past few Sundays, however, Jesus will be the Messiah in a way that will be difficult for many to accept. Jesus will show himself to be the Messiah through his suffering and death.

October 17 - Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

October 15th, 2021

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First Reading    Isaiah 53:10-11
Through his suffering, the servant of Yahweh will justify many.

 

Responsorial Psalm     Psalm 33:4-5,18-19,20,22
A prayer of praise for God’s mercy

 

Second Reading     Hebrews 4:14-16
Jesus is the high priest who sympathizes with our weakness.

 

Gospel Reading    Mark 10:35-45 (shorter form Mark 10:42-45)
Jesus teaches that those who wish to be great must be the servant of all.   

 

Background on the Gospel Reading

In this Sunday’s Gospel, we continue to read from the section of Mark’s Gospel that reports Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem. Last Sunday we heard Jesus lament the particular challenges those with many possessions face in order to enter the Kingdom of God. Jesus then predicts his passion to the Twelve, who are amazed and afraid. In this part of Mark’s Gospel, Jesus’ words to his closest disciples seem to be intended to prepare them for the events that will occur in Jerusalem.

In today’s Gospel, James and John ask to be given seats of honor when Jesus enters into his glory. Once again, the disciples seem to be selective in what they hear Jesus say. They want to share Jesus’ glory, but do not appear to understand that his glory will be preceded by his suffering. Jesus notes their lack of understanding and predicts the suffering they will endure for the sake of the Gospel. Jesus says that the honor they seek is not his to give. When the other ten hear what James and John have asked, Mark reports that they are indignant. Jesus takes the opportunity to teach them.

Jesus explains the importance of service and sacrifice in the life of a disciple. In particular, he seems to be preparing the Twelve for their leadership roles in the emerging Christian community. Echoing the Gospel we heard several weeks ago (on the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Mark 9:33-37), Jesus acknowledges that his teaching is countercultural. In today’s Gospel, Jesus contrasts the dynamics within the community of disciples with those shown by the rulers of the Gentiles.

Following Jesus’ example of sacrificial love continues to be countercultural in our day as well. We might take this opportunity to consider our models of authority and examine our own exercise of authority. On whose example do we model our leadership?

October 10 - Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

October 7th, 2021

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First Reading   Wisdom 7:7-11
Wisdom is preferred above gold and silver.

 

Responsorial Psalm    Psalm 90:12-13,14-15,16-17
The Lord fills us with love and joy.

 

Second Reading    Hebrews 4:12-13
The Word of God exposes the heart. 

 

Gospel Reading
Mark 10:17-30 (shorter form Mark 10:17-27) 
A man with many possessions asks Jesus what he must do to gain eternal life.

 

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today we continue reading the Gospel of Mark from where we left off last Sunday. Last Sunday our Gospel told how Jesus was tested by the Pharisees about the requirements for divorce. Recall that these chapters come from the second part of Mark’s Gospel, which chronicles the beginning of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem.

In today’s Gospel, an unnamed man approaches Jesus and inquires about what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus replies that one must follow the commandments of the Law of Moses. The man acknowledges that he has observed all of these since his childhood. Jesus then says that only one thing is lacking: he must give his possessions to the poor and follow Jesus. The man leaves in sadness, and Mark tells us that this is because he had many possessions.

The belief in resurrection and eternal life was a relatively recent development in Jewish thought at Jesus’ time, and it wasn’t shared by everyone. The Pharisees taught that there would be a resurrection from the dead; the Sadducees did not share this belief. Jesus taught that there would be a final judgment for everyone and eternal life (the Kingdom of God) for believers.

Jesus makes two requirements of the wealthy man who approaches him. First, he must give up his possessions. Throughout history, some Christians have taken this literally. Their example witnesses to us a radical commitment to the Gospel of Jesus. Some have read this as a particular requirement directed to this specific individual. Still others have sought to explain the meaning intended by the word possessions as those things that prevent one from following Jesus. Christians have generally understood that at the least, following Jesus requires that believers hold material possessions loosely and remain vigilant against seeking security in accumulating possessions.

The second requirement Jesus makes of this man is the invitation that Jesus extends to all would-be disciples: “follow me.” Jesus very much wants this man to be his disciple. We believe that the Christian faith is one in which each believer is in a personal relationship with Jesus. Just as this Gospel tells us that Jesus loves the man and is sad when he departs, so too, Jesus loves us and is saddened when we are unable to follow him.

We see in this Gospel reading another example of Mark’s pattern, which shows Jesus offering further elaboration about his message and meaning to his disciples. To his disciples, Jesus laments the challenges faced by those who are rich in following him and entering the Kingdom of God. In reply to the disciples’ astonishment at the strictness of the standard that Jesus speaks about today, Jesus reminds his disciples that nothing is impossible with God. Salvation is determined by our ability to rely completely upon God.

Peter replies to Jesus by boasting that the disciples have already given up everything. Jesus acknowledges that those who have given up everything for the sake of the Gospel will be rewarded. This reward begins now, in the new community that one will gain in this life, and will continue in the eternal age to come. Our personal relationship with Jesus is also an invitation to the community of faith, the Church.

October 3 - Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

October 1st, 2021

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First Reading   Genesis 2:18-24
God creates woman from Adam’s rib.

 

Responsorial Psalm    Psalm 128:1-2,3,4-5,6
A prayer for God’s blessing

 

Second Reading    Hebrews 2:9-11
Christ was made perfect through suffering so that we might all be consecrated.

 

Gospel Reading
Mark 10:2-16 (shorter form Mark 10:2-12)
Jesus teaches against divorce and welcomes the children.

 

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today we continue to read from the Gospel according to Mark. For the past three Sundays, we have been hearing Mark’s reports of conversations between Jesus and his disciples. Recall that in Mark’s Gospel, Jesus uses these private moments to teach his disciples in greater detail about the Kingdom of God. Beginning with today’s Gospel, Jesus returns to Judea, Jewish territory, and resumes his public ministry. The first verse of chapter 10 of Mark’s Gospel tells us that crowds gathered around Jesus, and he taught them, as was his custom. Immediately, the Pharisees approach Jesus to test him.

The Pharisees question Jesus about the lawfulness of divorce. Under specific conditions, divorce was an accepted practice among the Jewish people during the time of Jesus. It was regulated by the Law of Moses, as found in Deuteronomy 24:1-5. This law only permits that a husband may divorce his wife if he finds her to be indecent. This is the justification that the Pharisees reference when Jesus inquires about the commandment of Moses. In reply, Jesus quotes from the Book of Genesis and counters that God’s original intention was that men and women would become one flesh in marriage. Jesus describes the teaching of Moses as a concession made to God's original intention because of human stubbornness.

In private, Jesus’ disciples question him further about this teaching on divorce. It is to his disciples that Jesus lays out the implications of his teaching by explaining that remarriage after divorce is adultery. Jesus’ teaching was more restrictive than the teaching of the Pharisees, which permitted remarriage. Jesus further distinguished his teaching from the cultural norms of his time by applying his words equally to men and women. Jewish culture permitted only that a husband may divorce his wife. Wives were not permitted to divorce their husband for any reason, including adultery.

At first glance, the final part of today’s Gospel seems unconnected to the previous teaching about divorce. When read together, however, these passages present a strong picture of Jesus’ emphasis on the importance of family. God intended for women and men to be joined together in marriage. Among the purposes of marriage is the raising of children. By welcoming children and fostering their relationship with God, parents and families bear witness to the Kingdom of God.

At the end of today’s Gospel, the people were bringing their children to Jesus, and again Jesus’ disciples show that they just don’t get it. Recall that in the Gospel for each of the past two Sundays, Jesus has taught his disciples the value and importance of these “little ones” in the Kingdom of God. Yet in today’s Gospel, the disciples try to prevent people from bringing their children to Jesus. Jesus reprimands his disciples and welcomes these children. Again Jesus offers these children as an example of the kind of complete trust and dependence upon God that ought to be the attitude of all believers.

September 25 - Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

September 24th, 2021

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First Reading   Numbers 11:25-29
The Lord bestows his spirit on the seventy elders.

 

Responsorial Psalm    Psalm 19:8,10,12-13,14
The Law of the Lord brings joy.

 

Second Reading   James 5:1-6
James chastises the rich.

 

Gospel Reading
Mark 9:38-43,45,47-48
Jesus teaches that whoever is not against him is for him.

 

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today we continue to read from the Gospel of Mark. Recall that last week we heard Jesus chastise his disciples for their argument about who among them was the greatest. Jesus taught them that the greatest among them will be those who serve the least ones. In today’s Gospel, the disciple John questions Jesus about an unknown exorcist who was driving out demons in Jesus’ name. John’s question might have been motivated by jealousy. Previously in Mark's Gospel, Jesus healed a boy whom the disciples had been unable to heal. John’s question is further evidence that the disciples have not yet grasped Jesus’ words to them. They continue to compare themselves to others who seem to have greater healing powers, and they do not want to share the power of Jesus’ name with others.

Today the demon possession described in the Gospels might be seen as a form of mental illness, but the need for healing these syndromes was as real then as it is now. Exorcism was a common practice in first-century Palestine. Some people had the power to heal the symptoms of possession. One of the strategies used was to invoke the name of a person or figure who was believed to have the power to heal.

The disciples observed that the unknown exorcist invoked Jesus’ name and was successful in his healing efforts. This unknown healer recognized the power of Jesus’ name, yet he was not a follower of Jesus. In his reply to his disciples, Jesus acknowledges that deeds of faith can precede the words of faith. He also teaches that the disciples should not be reluctant to share Jesus’ healing powers with others.

Later in this Gospel, Jesus teaches us not to create obstacles for those who are just beginning to have faith but to encourage even the smallest signs of faith. The Greek word used here for sin also connotes “stumbling” or “causing scandal.” In vivid terms Jesus teaches his disciples the consequences to those who would put obstacles before people who are on the road to faith.

September 19 - Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

September 18th, 2021

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First Reading   Wisdom 2:12,17-20
The just one is put to the test.

 

Responsorial Psalm   Psalm 54:3-4,5,6 & 8
A prayer for God’s protection.

 

Second Reading   James 3:16—4:3
James teaches about the wisdom from above.

 

Gospel Reading
Mark 9:30-37
Jesus teaches his disciples that the greatest are those who serve all.

 

Background on the Gospel Reading

In today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus again predict his passion, death, and Resurrection to his disciples. The setting here is important. Jesus and his disciples are preparing to journey through Galilee, a Jewish territory in which Jesus has already encountered problems with the Pharisees. Perhaps this is why Mark indicates that Jesus was trying to journey in secret. In predicting his passion, Jesus is acknowledging the danger they will face and is trying to preparing his disciples for it. Yet Mark tells us that the disciples did not understand what Jesus was saying and were afraid to ask what he meant. Such hesitation on the part of the disciples is not characteristic behavior. Peter had no fear about rebuking Jesus in last week’s Gospel. Perhaps this is an indication that the disciples were aware that a new situation was emerging.

Mark paints a vivid picture in today’s Gospel. Having arrived at Capernaum, Jesus and his disciples enter a house. In this private place, Jesus asks his disciples about the argument they had while they were journeying. Again, the disciples are uncharacteristically silent and afraid to answer. They have been found out. Jesus then summons the Twelve, whom Mark identified earlier in his Gospel as those chosen by Jesus to preach and to drive out demons. To this select group of disciples, Jesus teaches that those who would be first in God’s kingdom must be servants of all.

Jesus then calls forward a child and teaches the Twelve that to receive a child in Jesus’ name is to receive both Jesus and the One who sent him. We might easily fail to understand the significance of this action. In first-century Palestine, children were without status or power, possessing no legal rights. In this action, Jesus is teaching his disciples and us that when we serve the least ones among us, we serve Jesus himself. Who are the people without power or status in our society that Jesus is calling us to serve? Do we do so willingly? Jesus teaches that God’s judgment of us will be based on this criterion alone.

September 12 - Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

September 11th, 2021

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First Reading   Isaiah 50:5-9a
The suffering servant of Yahweh is assured of God’s help.

 

Responsorial Psalm   Psalm 116:1-2,3-4,5-6,8-9
A prayer of praise to God for his salvation

 

Second Reading   James 2:14-18
James teaches that faith must be demonstrated in one’s works.

 

Gospel Reading
Mark 8:27-35
Peter declares that Jesus is the Christ, and Jesus teaches that those who would follow him must take up his or her cross.

 

Background on the Gospel Reading

 

Today’s reading is the turning point in Mark’s Gospel. In the presentation of the life and ministry of Jesus found in the Gospel of Mark, the deeds of Jesus have shown Jesus to be the Son of God. Yet many, including Jesus’ disciples, have not yet realized his identity. In today’s Gospel, Jesus asks the disciples for a field report by asking what others say about him. He then turns the question directly to the disciples and asks what they believe. Peter speaks for all of them when he announces that they believe Jesus to be the Christ.

The word Christ is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word for Messiah, which means “the anointed one.” At the time of Jesus, the image of the Messiah was laden with popular expectations, most of which looked for a political leader who would free the Jewish people from Roman occupation. Jesus does not appear to have used this term for himself. As we see in today’s reading, Jesus refers to himself instead as the Son of Man, a term derived from the Jewish Scriptures, found in the Book of Daniel and in other apocryphal writings. Many scholars suggest that the phrase Son of Man is best understood to mean “human being.”

Now that the disciples have acknowledged Jesus as the Christ, Jesus confides in them the outcome of his ministry: he will be rejected, must suffer and die, and will rise after three days. Peter rejects this prediction, and Jesus rebukes him severely. The image of Christ that Jesus is giving is not the image of the Messiah that Peter was expecting. Jesus then teaches the crowd and the disciples about the path of discipleship: To be Chris’s disciple is to follow in the way of the cross.

We can easily miss the fear that Jesus’ words must have evoked in his disciples. Death by crucifixion was all too familiar as a method of execution in Roman-occupied territories. It was also an omnipresent danger to the Christian community for whom Mark wrote. The path that Jesus was inviting his disciples to share meant tremendous suffering and death. This is the kind of radical commitment and sacrifice that Jesus calls us to adopt for the sake of the Gospel.

September 5 - Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

September 3rd, 2021

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First Reading   Isaiah 35:4-7a
Isaiah prophesies about God’s vindication.

 

Responsorial Psalm    Psalm 146:7,8-9,9-10
A song of praise to God

 

Second Reading   James 2:1-5
James teaches that there is to be no partiality within the Christian community.

 

Gospel Reading
Mark 7:31-37
Jesus restores a man’s hearing and speech.

 

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today we continue to hear the Gospel of Mark proclaimed. In today’s reading, Jesus heals a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment. This is a story about Jesus’ healing power, and in it we find clues about our understanding of sacrament. We are struck by the physical means used to heal the man, the use of spittle and touch. The Church continues to celebrate the sacraments using physical means. In the Sacrament of Baptism, water and oil are used to show the power of the Holy Spirit. In the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, we are anointed with holy oil on the forehead and the hands. In the Eucharist, bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ. We are a sacramental people who believe that God’s grace is given to us through these physical signs.

Some, however, see in this Gospel an image of the proclamation of the good news of Jesus to the Gentiles. The geographic references tell us that Jesus is journeying through Gentile territory. Jesus had previously visited this region and healed a person possessed by a demon. Jesus was already famous there, which explains why people brought the deaf man to him.The story that precedes this reading in Mark’s Gospel sets the stage. Jesus encounters a Gentile, a Syrophoenician woman who asks him to heal her demon-possessed daughter. Jesus engages her in a dialogue about not feeding to dogs the food intended for children. Jesus is struck by the woman’s great faith when she replies that even dogs eat the food that falls from the table, and he heals her daughter immediately. The faith of this Greek woman compels Jesus to respond to her plea.

Mark shows that Jesus’ own mission affirms the early Church’s mission to the Gentiles. This was a significant issue to the early Christian community, which found that the good news of Jesus took root and spread quickly among the Gentiles. Yet there is an irony in the story of healing that Mark tells. Jesus gives the man the gift of speech, but then tells him not to use it. Jesus asks that the news of his healing power, which is evidence of his identity as the Messiah, not be spread. This is a recurring motif in Mark’s Gospel and is sometimes called the “messianic secret.”

August 29 - Twenty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B

August 27th, 2021

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First Reading  Deuteronomy 4:1-2,6-8
Moses tells the Israelites to observe the commandments that God gave them.

 

Responsorial Psalm  Psalm 15:2-3,3-4,4-5
Those who do justice will find favor with God.

 

Second Reading   James 1:17-18,21b-22,27
James teaches that Christians should be doers of the Word.

 

Gospel Reading
Mark 7:1-8,14-15,21-23
Jesus teaches that it is that which comes from our hearts that defiles us.

 

Background on the Gospel Reading

This Sunday, our lectionary returns to Mark’s Gospel after a number of Sundays in which we heard the Bread of Life discourse from the Gospel of John. Recall that we focus on the Gospel of Mark in Lectionary Cycle B, but substitute John’s report of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes for Mark’s report of this event.

In today’s Gospel, Mark provides a significant amount of information about the Jewish observance of ritual-purity laws. Most scholars believe that Mark includes this information because his audience includes Gentile Christians who have no knowledge or experience of these laws. We can infer, therefore, that many in Mark’s community were not Jewish Christians.

In this Gospel, Mark addresses the question of which Jewish practices would also be observed in the newly emerging Christian community. This was a significant question for the early Christian Church, especially in communities that included both Jewish and Gentile converts to Christianity. We also hear this question addressed in the letters of Paul with regard to table fellowship. In Gospel passages such as the one today, we see the Gospel evangelists finding justification for a Christian practice distinct from Judaism in the remembrances of Jesus’ teaching and the practice of his first disciples.

Jesus first criticizes the Pharisees for putting human tradition above God’s Law. Here, Jesus is referring to the tradition of the elders, the teachings of the Pharisees, which extended the ritual-purity laws of Temple worship to everyday Jewish life. Jesus criticizes the Pharisees for making this tradition equal to and as binding as the Law of Moses.

Next, Jesus comments on the meaning behind the Pharisees’ language of holiness—clean and unclean. Jesus teaches that a person is not defiled by the food that enters his or her body, but rather by sin that emerges from his or her words and actions. In this teaching, Jesus unmasks a deeper question behind the one posed to him by the Pharisees. The real issue is holiness, which is not found in external acts alone. Holiness comes from within and is evidenced in the actions and attitudes that emerge from a person’s life.

If we read today’s Gospel carefully, we will see a pattern in Jesus’ teaching method that will be repeated in the weeks ahead. Jesus’ first teaching is directed to the Pharisees who questioned him. Jesus’ words are then directed to the crowd, teaching that a person is defiled by his or her words and actions, not by the food that he or she eats. In verses omitted in today’s reading, we learn that Jesus returned home with his disciples, who in turn questioned him about what he had taught. The words we read at the conclusion of today’s Gospel are addressed to Jesus’ disciples. Mark’s narrative shows several audiences for Jesus’ teaching: his antagonists, the crowds, and Jesus’ disciples. As we see in this reading, the words to the Pharisees are often words of challenge. The teaching to the crowds is often a general, sometimes cryptic, message. With the disciples, who often misunderstand Jesus’ words, further explanation is offered about his message and its meaning.

Jesus’ words challenge us as well. In our desire to show that we are holy, we might also give too much credence to externals, following rules without thinking about the intention behind them. Jesus reminds us that we do not make ourselves holy by our actions. Rather, we become holy when we allow God’s Spirit to transform us. Our actions should be an expression of the conversion of our heart to God and to God’s ways

August 22 - Twenty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B

August 19th, 2021

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First Reading   Joshua 24:1-2a,15-17,18b
Joshua and the people declare that they will serve the Lord.

 

Responsorial Psalm    Psalm 34:2-3,16-17,18-19,20-21
The Lord hears the cries of the just.

 

Second Reading   Ephesians 5:21-32 (or shorter form Ephesians 5:2a,25-32)
Husbands and wives should love one another as Christ loves the Church.

 

Gospel Reading
John 6:60-69
Simon Peter confesses his faith that Jesus alone has the words of the eternal life.

 

Background on the Gospel Reading

For our Gospel today we hear the conclusion of the “Bread of Life discourse” in the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel. In the preceding verses, which we have heard proclaimed in our liturgy over the past few weeks, we have heard Jesus explain that he is the Bread of Life, given so that those who believe may have eternal life. This discourse follows the miracle in which Jesus fed more than five thousand people with five barley loaves and two fish. As Jesus has been teaching these things, John’s Gospel describes a murmuring crowd unable to accept Jesus’ words. In today’s Gospel, the crowd has dwindled in number, and John no longer references them, or the Jews. Instead John describes the questioning of those considered to be Jesus’ own disciples.

Today’s Gospel first records the response of those in the crowd who are described as Jesus’ disciples. Just as the larger crowd had struggled with Jesus’ teaching, these disciples also cannot accept Jesus’ words. Jesus is said to know about their murmuring. He responds by acknowledging their unbelief and by reiterating that only those chosen by the Father will follow Jesus to the end. John’s Gospel reports that many of those who had been Jesus’ disciples ceased to follow him at this point. The number of people following Jesus dwindled from a crowd of more than 5,000 to only 12 people. And it is to these Twelve that Jesus now turns his attention.

Simon Peter’s response to Jesus’ question as to whether those closest to him will also leave, reminds us of the reports of Peter’s confession of faith in the Synoptic Gospels. Peter announces, on behalf of all the Twelve, that they have come to believe all that Jesus has taught about himself: Jesus is the one from God in whom they have found the path to eternal life.

This conclusion of the Bread of Life discourse focuses on personal faith in the life of Christian discipleship. Each person must make his or her own judgment about who Jesus is and in doing so determine the way of life that he or she will follow. God’s grace invites us to be Jesus’ disciples, but each person must respond to the grace of God and confess as his or her own the belief that Jesus is the one from God. This faith then commits us to the path of life, leading us to eternal life.

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