(Joshua 24:1-2,15-18; Psalm 34:2-3,16-21; Ephesians 5:21-32; John 6:60-69)
Letting Go and Receiving from God
“This saying is hard; who can accept it?” (John 6:60)
What was “this saying” that the people could not accept? It was Jesus’ words that we needed to eat his flesh and drink his blood. You can understand how, if taken too literally, such a statement would turn people away. But Jesus wasn’t speaking about ritual cannibalism. He wasn’t inviting people to take a bite out of his arm. No, he was talking sacramentally. He was pointing to the time when they would experience his presence deeply as they gathered to celebrate his death and resurrection. He was pointing to the way he would be present in the bread that they broke and the wine that they shared.
Why was this so hard to hear? In part, because the people took him too literally. But it was also hard because Jesus was telling the people how generous God was. There was no “work” that they had to do (John 6:28-29). They didn’t need to go looking for a new Moses. They just needed to come and receive. God would provide for them, just as he— not Moses—fed their ancestors with manna in the desert (6:32).
This is probably one of the biggest challenges that we all face—the challenge to let go and simply receive from God. It’s never easy to give up control, but God promises that as we do, he will take over and enable us to do things that we could never do on our own. Our fallen nature wants to dictate the terms of our relationship with God, but the Holy Spirit wants to show us how much more exciting and fulfilling it is when we surrender to him and let him lead us.
If you are finding it hard to let go of something right now, just remember the One who is asking for this surrender: Jesus Christ, the Holy One of God (John 6:69). He won’t lead you astray.
“Lord, you are the Bread of Life. Teach me to be a generous receiver of your grace. Help me, also, to be generous in giving away all that you want me to let go of.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
- In the first reading today, Joshua challenges the Israelites – who had witnessed God’s saving hand as he freed them from Egypt, fed them in the desert for forty years, and gave them the promised land – to make a decision to serve the Lord or choose someone else whom they would follow. The Israelite’s response was, “Therefore, we will also serve the Lord, for he is our God.” Today the Lord is putting that same challenge to us. What are some steps you will take to serve the Lord more faithfully?
- In the Responsorial Psalm, we are promised God’s constant closeness and protection, especially during times of great distress. In fact we are told our souls will “glory” in the Lord and be “glad”. St. Augustine said a Christian should be an “alleluia from head to toe.” How would you describe the ways your “gladness” in the Lord is a Christian witness to others? Is their room for improvement? In what ways?
- In the second reading, St. Paul quotes the passage from Genesis 2:24 that is used in marriage ceremonies: “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh” (Ephesians 5:31). He goes on to say these words: “This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church” (5:32). This, of course, is the highest possible standard of love for husbands and wives. What are some ways that the relationship between a husband and wife can reflect Christ’s relationship with the church? If you are married, how does this apply to you? What changes can you make to better reflect Christ’s love in your marriage?
- In the Gospel, we meet those followers of Jesus who found his teachings on the Eucharist too difficult, and so left him to return to their former way of life. St. Peter speaks for all of us when he says there is no one else to whom we can go because only Jesus has the words of eternal life. In what ways do you sometimes find yourself vacillating between returning to your former way of life and following Jesus wholeheartedly?
- In the meditation, we hear these words, “This is probably one of the biggest challenges that we all face—the challenge to let go and simply receive from God. It’s never easy to give up control, but God promises that as we do, he will take over and enable us to do things that we could never do on our own.” What are the obstacles that make it hard for you to “let go,” “receive from God,” and “give up control” to God? What role can deepening the way we receive the Eucharist help us in overcoming these obstacles?
- Take some time now to pray to receive all the graces you need to give to others what the Lord has given you, especially his love and forgiveness. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.