Catholic Mass Readings and Reflection April 20, 2024


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R/. How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me

V/. Alleluia

R/. Alleluia

V/. Your words, Lord are Spirit and life, you have the words of eternal life.

R/. Alleluia.

At that time: When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

1.      The words of Jesus are unmincing and his demands are uncompromising. The truth that he is and that he calls for will be so distasteful to many. This was exactly the same situation in Jesus’ time. Jesus affirmed, “I am the bread of life; those who do not eat of my flesh and do not drink my blood will not live”.

2.      Many resented those words, saying, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” Many began to grumble against him and desert him. They fail to understand the depth of Jesus’ words. They were not ready to enter into a deep personal relationship with him. They remain very peripheral and superficial. They fail to realise and experience “the words of Jesus are spirit and life”.

3.      But in contrast, we find the Twelve totally clinging to Jesus. They declare, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed”. The whole world may forsake Jesus and go away. Many may turn disloyal to him. But the true disciples of Jesus like the Twelve will ever be steadfast in their fidelity to the Lord.

4.      The mission of the apostles in the Acts of the Apostles is a vivid testimony of this unflinching zeal and loyalty to the Lord. Their sole and whole focus was “walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit”. They were committed to “building the believing communities”.

5.      Their mission was accompanied by miracles. Peter healed the paralysed Aeneas and brought to life the dead Tabitha. This is the real beauty of the mission of the apostles: a perfect integration of preaching and healing. The miracles were not substitutes for their preaching or dominants over their proclamation. Rather, their whole mission was a witnessing blend of word and deed.

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