Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
1st Reading: Joshua 24:1-2, 15-18 2nd Reading: Ephesians 5:21-32
Responsorial: Psalm 34:2-3, 16-21 Gospel: John 6:60-69
Master, to whom shall we go? (John 6:68)
Preparing the Israelites to recommit themselves to their covenant with God, Joshua recounted the many ways God had delivered them from their enemies. He reminded them that God had chosen them to be his people and given them the Promised Land as their inheritance. In return, God asked them to honor and serve him alone (Joshua 24:1-15).
Today at Mass, we will have yet another oppor tunity to recommit ourselves to our new covenant in Christ. Our enemies may not be the sword or spear of other nations. But like our ancestors in the faith, we face battles against fear, pride, ignorance, and complacency. We may not have to conquer a piece of land, but God wants all of us to become witnesses to our love for Jesus and his people.
This is a high calling, so it’s a good thing that Jesus has promised to give us himself as our strength for the battle. We are blessed that he offers us his own life so that we can find the grace to love unconditionally and forgive seventy times seven times—just as he does.
Many disciples who heard Jesus’ teaching on the Bread of Life could not accept it. Why would they need his flesh and blood to have life with God? They already had the Law of Moses. But Peter saw through these objections and proclaimed: “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). Just as God was the Israelites’ only hope in conquering the Promised Land, Jesus was Peter’s only hope in living a life of purity, love, and freedom.
You are about to receive Jesus in Communion. Look closely at the Host and the chalice. You are receiving something that has astonished believers for two thousand years. You may not understand this great mystery, but you can still echo Peter’s words: “Master, where else can I go? You alone can give me what I need.”
“Jesus, I know that I am weak, but you are strong. Help me to follow you wherever you go.”
Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion:
1. In the first reading today, Joshua challenges the Israelites – who had witnessed God’s saving hand as he freed them from slavery in Egypt, fed them in the desert for forty years, and lead them to the promised land: “If it does not please you to serve the LORD, decide today whom you will serve, the gods your fathers served beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are now dwelling. As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” The Israelite’s response ends with these words: “Therefore, we will also serve the LORD, for he is our God.”
- How does what the Lord did for the Israelites parallel what the Lord did for us through his cross?
- In what ways does the Lord challenge each of us to make a response similar to Joshua’s and the Israelites? What has been your response? What are some steps you can take to serve the LORD more faithfully?
2. The Responsorial Psalm for the past three weeks has been Psalm 34. It begins with these words: I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall ever be in my mouth. Let my soul glory in the LORD; the lowly will hear me and be glad.
Although these words may sound like an impossibility based on the busyness of our days, yet in what way is it a reminder of our need to turn to the Lord more often?
- As you take some steps to make these words of the psalmist a greater reality in your life, even in the midst of your busyness, what impact do you think they will have?
- How would you describe the ways you glory in the Lord. Does it bring “gladness” to others? In what ways?
3. 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.” He goes on to say these words: This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church. He refers to this as the highest possible standard of love for husbands toward their wives: Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church, as well as for all Christian relationships. 1 John 3:16 says it this way: This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.
- If you are married, how do these Scriptures apply to you? If you are single, how do they apply to you?
- Whether you are married or single, what changes can you make to better reflect Christ’s love to others?
4. In the Gospel reading, we meet those followers of Jesus who struggled with his teachings on the Eucharist: Many of Jesus’ disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” The differences in the final response of the doubting disciples to Jesus’ words versus the response of the 12 apostles is quite revealing: As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”
- Why do you think Jesus’ teachings, and his responses, caused the doubting disciples to leave him and return to their former way of life. Why do you think the apostles, through Simon Peter, responded so differently?
- What are the situations or circumstances that can sometimes cause you to vacillate between returning to your former way of life versus following Jesus wholeheartedly?
5. The meditation, which is also a reflection on the Gospel reading, ends with these words: “Many disciples who heard Jesus’ teaching on the Bread of Life could not accept it. Why would they need his flesh and blood to have life with God? They already had the Law of Moses. But Peter saw through these objections and proclaimed: ‘Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life’ (John 6:68). Just as God was the Israelites’ only hope in conquering the Promised Land, Jesus was Peter’s only hope in living a life of purity, love, and freedom. You are about to receive Jesus in Communion. Look closely at the Host and the chalice. You are receiving something that has astonished believers for two thousand years. You may not understand this great mystery, but you can still echo Peter’s words: ‘Master, where else can I go? You alone can give me what I need.’”
- How can deepening the way you receive the Eucharist help you in overcoming any doubts during difficult times, so that you too can echo Peter’s words: “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life”?
- In what ways do these words from the meditation apply to you: “Just as God was the Israelites’ only hope in conquering the Promised Land, Jesus was Peter’s only hope in living a life of purity, love, and freedom.”?
Take some time now to pray and ask the Lord him for the grace and the strength to always follow him, in spite of your weaknesses. Use the prayer below from the end of the meditation as the starting point.