The chapter begins with John’s description of the multiplication of five barley loaves and a couple of fish. Today’s reading emphasizes that Jesus has come down from heaven to do the will of the Father. We reflect on our own will when we receive Holy Communion: that this is the will of God to share this meal in memory of the message and sacrifice Jesus left us with on the cross.
This sign of God’s power and support of Jesus’ mission reaches the conclusion (later this week) with the multiple expressions of “… unless you eat my body and drink my blood, you will not have life everlasting.” But it is in this comment by Jesus also referred to in today’s text that some of his disciples no longer followed him. There were so many moments in the recent passion story when friends, disciples and others no longer followed him. And here after the Resurrection in the 21st century we note that this still occurs. Consider, for example, the many Christian denominations, many of which do not believe in the emphatic claim of Jesus in John 6 that he is “the Bread of Life!”
The first reading from Acts is just before Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus. The church in Jerusalem is being persecuted so the believers are “scattered throughout the countryside.” Just north of Jerusalem, in the region of Samaria, Philip (not the apostle but the deacon, cf., Acts 6:5) is well-received as he describes Jesus as the Messiah for whom they all have been waiting. Because of the faith of the listeners many miracles and cures were happening in this region. This acceptance comes from the part of Israel about which the Jews were so judgmental. The salvation won for all of us included the Northern Kingdom (called Samaria in this text) and indeed all people of good will.
In both readings today we see that trusting in the message of Jesus is rewarding. In Samaria there are many cures from so many ailments. In the gospel we ourselves are blessed for our faith in the reception of the Eucharist, knowing that this is the will of God that Jesus obeys in remaining with us in this sacrament.
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