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Twenty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time

After Jesus spoke about being the Bread of Life and that those who eat his flesh and drink his blood would have eternal life, he turns to his disciples and asks  “do you also wish to go away?  For such a great gift received what do we say to Jesus regarding his offering himself to us?

This is a meditation on this Gospel from one of my sisters:

“Master, to whom shall we go? . . . you are the Holy One of God.”

Just as in the Synoptic Gospels Peter proclaims Jesus as the Messiah, so here in John’s Gospel he proclaims Jesus as the Holy One of God, who has the words of eternal life. Peter has come to believe in Jesus’ divine origin. This must have been a bittersweet moment for Jesus. It is bitter because many of his disciples refuse to accept his teaching on the Eucharist and leave him, and also because Jesus knows that one of the Twelve will betray him. But it is sweet because Peter, in the name of his companions, professes belief that the Master was sent by God.

I wonder if Peter was receptive to divine illumination because of his love for the Master. I wonder, too, whether he later mulled over what he had impulsively exclaimed and made some connection with the Scriptures. For example, in Deuteronomy God promises to send a prophet “like Moses” to whom the people would listen (see Dt 18:15–19). Isaiah promises that someday Israel’s teacher would no longer hide himself; people would see him with their own eyes (see Is 30:20). The wisdom books (Proverbs, Wisdom, and Sirach) tell of God’s personified Wisdom, described as coming forth from the Most High to carry out his bidding in the world. If Peter and the others didn’t recall those passages then, they certainly would in the future.

We, too, profess that Jesus is the Holy One of God, sent into the world with the words of eternal life. We meditate on these words and try to live by them. How can we help friends and family members find the light and strength that we ourselves draw from the Gospel?

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