18th Sunday in Ordinary Time
What can we do? (John 6:28)
You’ve probably heard of the Rubik’s Cube, a puzzle requiring tremendous concentration to solve. You must move the parts of the cube in an exact sequence to master it. Many start out enthusiastically, only to give up after a few minutes, frustrated by the puzzle’s complexities.
You could say the crowd in today’s Gospel is treating Jesus like a kind of puzzle. They can’t seem to figure him out. He was a prophet, no doubt. But he said and did things that stretched their laws and traditions in uncomfortable ways. What did he mean about being the “bread of life” (John 6:35)? How could he do things that only God could do, like heal the sick or forgive sins? They couldn’t get their minds around him because they hadn’t yet started thinking “outside of the cube.”
Still, you have to admire their tenacity. Even when Jesus gives them an answer that they don’t understand, they try a different tack. “When did you get here?” “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” “What sign can you do?” They really want to know, and they’re not about to give up! And as we will see at the end of this chapter, no one was more tenacious than Peter. After having heard Jesus give so many baffling—and seemingly scandalous—answers, he decides to keep following him. “Master,” he asks, “to whom shall we go?” (John 6:68). There’s no one else who speaks with the same authority, passion, and love. All I can do now is stay with you until it all makes sense.
How tenacious are you? Sometimes we want to know exactly what God is doing in our lives—Should I stay at this job? Should I marry the person I’m dating? Why wasn’t my loved one healed when I prayed? Sometimes there isn’t a yes or no answer, and other times we just have to wait. Whatever happens, stick with it. Stick with Jesus, and you will be rewarded!
“Lord, I believe that you are my ‘bread of life.’ Help me hold fast to you” (John 6:35).
Exodus 16:2-4, 12-15
Psalm 78:3-4, 23-25, 54
Ephesians 4:17, 20-24
Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion