Faith is Not the Result of Human’s Effort

Weekly Missionary Reflection
21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, 22 August 2021

Josh 24:1-2a,15-17,18b; Ps. 34:2-3,16-17,18-19,20-21,22-23; Eph. 5:21-32; John 6:60-69

Non multa sed multum, it’s Latin for “not many but much”. This is the essence of Jesus’ message today. The sign of multiplying the bread for 5000 people has been continued with the teaching about His identity: Jesus is the bread that comes down from heaven; the giver of true and eternal life. How do His disciples, in the past and present, accept the true Live? In chapter 6 it is told in two ways. First, by believing Jesus’ word and teaching, as the revelation of the Father. Jesus is the Wisdom who presents the Father to the world. Second, by welcoming the Giver of life in the Eucharist. What a convincing sign, and a complete teaching. But, what is the result? The crisis of faith. At the beginning, the disciples just complained (v. 60), then eventually many turned back from being His disciples (v. 66). Let us reflect on their crisis of faith. What is the root of this crisis?

First, they felt that Jesus’ words and teachings were too “stern” (v. 60). His claim that He was the bread of life who came down from Heaven, through His teaching and Eucharist, was hard to be accepted by most of His followers. It is easier for Jesus’ followers, in the past and present, to accept Jesus as a miracle worker, or a Prophet, Teacher, Liberator, etc, than to accept Him as the true life giver, who presents the Father, and who will return back to the Father through His death on the cross (v. 61).

Second, the crisis of disciples’ faith does not mean that Jesus has chosen the wrong disciples. The Gospel emphasized twice, that Jesus knew about their complain (v. 61), He even knew who would betray Him (v. 64). So, the betrayal and disbelief will certainly happen among His followers. Does Jesus let this crisis happen without a way out? Not at all! First, He asked them to keep believing that He came from the Father and would go back to the Father through His death on the cross. And the most important is Jesus emphasizes that faith on Him is the grant from the Father (v. 65), who gives the Holy Spirit, the Helper who grant life to the believers (v. 63). The crisis of faith happens when we think that faith is the fruit of our own effort and devotion. We no more ask for the grant from the Holy Spirit, but rely more on the “useless flesh” (v. 63).

Third, the crisis of faith and mass apostasy challenge us to become “the small remnant” that is enduring and qualified. Peter, representing the twelve closest disciples of Jesus, is the model and example. The challenge from Jesus for them remains relevant to us: “Do you also want to leave?”. Peter’s reply, that should also be our answer and pray, is too beautiful for not quoted literally: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the word of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God” (v. 68). In the midst of faith crisis, as individual or church, you and I are challenged to endure and stay with Him.

(Hortensio Mandaru – Indonesia Bible Society, Jakarta)

DAILY DEDICATED PRAYER

Lord, our Father, I present my today prayer, thought, word, work, joy and sorrow in the unity with Your Son, Jesus Christ, who always presents Himself in the Eucharist for the world salvation. May the Holy Spirit, as the soul of Jesus, also lead and give me the strength today so that I am ready to be the witness of Your love.

Together with St. Mary, Mother of Jesus and the Church, I specially present my prayer to our Pope and Indonesian Church prayer apostles of this month:

For Evangelization intention:
Church: Let us pray for the Church, so they can receive the grace and power from Holy Spirit, to renew themselves in the light of Gospel. We pray …

For Indonesian Churches intention:
Tackling the problem of racism: May the government be blessed with clarity of heart and mind in guiding the public for not being easily provoked by the issue of social, culture and race difference. We pray …

Special Intention for the year of St. Joseph:
Let us join St. Joseph to get the Spirit of Humility, in order to be able to surrender ourselves to Your will in true freedom. We pray…

Amen

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