Daily Reflection
May 13th, 2000
Tom Krettek, S.J.
Philosophy Department
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

Acts 9:31-42
Psalms 116:12-17
John 6:60-69

“Unless.”  According to Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, “unless” is a conjunction meaning “except on the condition that: under any other circumstances than or without the accompanying circumstance or condition that: but that.”  Conjunctions are connectives.  In today’s gospel reading we hear Jesus telling the disciples who were present “that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.”  And he told them this because they found to be a difficult saying Jesus telling them “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.” 

This episode seems tied to a couple of other occasions in the scriptures.  In the creation account in Genesis, we are reminded that originally all seed-bearing plants and all the trees with seed-bearing fruit were given as food.  Edenic life depended on the condition that no one eat of the trees in the middle of the garden.  Our earliest ancestors turned away from that condition and disconnected themselves from the truly nourishing.  However, in allowing themselves to be misled as to what is truly nourishing for them, our earliest ancestors were denied access to the tree that gave life.  In today’s gospel, we hear again that many of Jesus’s disciples “turned back” or “drew back” from following him because they thought life was to be found in another form of nourishment.  Many of his disciples failed to make the connection and returned to their former way of life.  This “turning back” unites this event to the events in another garden where when Judas arrives with the cohort and Jesus asks who they are looking for and they reply “Jesus the Nazarene” and Jesus replies “I am he,” they too “turn back” or “draw back.”  It is noteworthy that Judas and the cohort in the garden were also looking for Jesus, however, they came bearing their own “unless.” 

Peter makes the connection.  That is why he does what Jesus does.  His life in Jesus means that he brings healing and life to those who turn toward God.

Didymus, who is our twin, mirrors our situation.  He has only heard from the other disciples that Jesus is risen, however, he asserts as a condition of his moving from doubt to belief that “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”  Thomas has made the connection that Jesus says that his disciples must make.  He affirms that our connection with Jesus and life is through the Paschal Mystery, just as Jesus taught.  Jesus is the tree of life.  We, like all our ancestors, can turn back or turn toward, however, unless we turn toward the source of real nourishment, we cannot have real life.  He reminds us that we bring our own “unlesses” according to which we will allow ourselves to be connected to Jesus.

The story of our invitation to turn away from or to turn toward life continues. 

Click on the link below to send an e-mail response
to the writer of this reflection.
Online Ministries
Home Page
for Sunday
Online Retreat
Daily Readings Texts
from the
New American Bible
Daily Readings Texts
from the
RSV Bible
Spirituality Links
Saint of the Day
Collaborative Ministry Office 
Home Page
University Ministry
Home Page
Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook