Both of the readings for this Saturday are poignant scenes. In the Acts of the Apostles, Peter is following in the footsteps of his Master and is now healing and raising from the dead just as Jesus had done. St. Luke’s purpose here is to show that Jesus is still working in the world through his apostles.
The Gospel scene is also a poignant reminder of the rejection Jesus faced while walking this earth. Chapter six of the Gospel of St. John begins with Jesus feeding 5,000 men, not counting the women and children. As the discourse that fills the chapter continues, more and more of the disciples drift away until only the Twelve remain. One can almost hear the sadness in Jesus’ voice as he says to them: “Do you also want to leave?” We are so used to Peter’s tendency to put his foot in his mouth that his response almost takes one’s breath away. “To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
The history of the Church is riddled with mistakes; some of those mistakes are sinful. Our own times have seen thousands desert the Church because of the sexual abuse scandal. I have thought on more than one occasion that I cannot blame them for leaving. However, today’s Gospel passage reminds me why I stay. I, like the apostles, have come to believe that Jesus is the Holy One of God, the very incarnation of God living among us.
The Church is still healing people and bring hope to the poor and the refugees of the world. However, one aspect of poverty is that the poor realize of how much they need God. Those who have filled their lives with material things have a difficult time understanding how much we all need God in our lives.
As we draw near to the altar today to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus, let us speak gratefully to God and say: “Lord, to whom shall I go? I know how much I need and desire your presence in my life.”
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator