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Meet Jesus in the Eucharist

First Reading: Acts 9:31-42

The Church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria
was at peace.
She was being built up and walked in the fear of the Lord,
and with the consolation of the Holy Spirit she grew in numbers.

As Peter was passing through every region,
he went down to the holy ones living in Lydda.
There he found a man named Aeneas,
who had been confined to bed for eight years, for he was paralyzed.
Peter said to him,
“Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and make your bed.”
He got up at once.
And all the inhabitants of Lydda and Sharon saw him,
and they turned to the Lord.

Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha
(which translated is Dorcas).
She was completely occupied with good deeds and almsgiving.
Now during those days she fell sick and died,
so after washing her, they laid her out in a room upstairs.
Since Lydda was near Joppa,
the disciples, hearing that Peter was there,
sent two men to him with the request,
“Please come to us without delay.”
So Peter got up and went with them.
When he arrived, they took him to the room upstairs
where all the widows came to him weeping
and showing him the tunics and cloaks
that Dorcas had made while she was with them.
Peter sent them all out and knelt down and prayed.
Then he turned to her body and said, “Tabitha, rise up.”
She opened her eyes, saw Peter, and sat up.
He gave her his hand and raised her up,
and when he had called the holy ones and the widows,
he presented her alive.
This became known all over Joppa,
and many came to believe in the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 116:12-13, 14-15, 16-17

R. (12) How shall I make a return to the Lord for all the good he has done for me?
How shall I make a return to the LORD
for all the good he has done for me?
The cup of salvation I will take up,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD
R. How shall I make a return to the Lord for all the good he has done for me?
My vows to the LORD I will pay
in the presence of all his people.
Precious in the eyes of the LORD
is the death of his faithful ones.
R. How shall I make a return to the Lord for all the good he has done for me?
O LORD, I am your servant;
I am your servant, the son of your handmaid;
you have loosed my bonds.
To you will I offer sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD.
R. How shall I make a return to the Lord for all the good he has done for me?

Gospel: John 6:60-69

Many of the disciples of Jesus who were listening said,
“This saying is hard; who can accept it?”
Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this,
he said to them, “Does this shock you?
What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?
It is the Spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail.
The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life.
But there are some of you who do not believe.”
Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe
and the one who would betray him.
And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me
unless it is granted him by my Father.”

As a result of this,
many of his disciples returned to their former way of life
and no longer walked with 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.”

NAB

april 16

A few years ago, I sat down and made list of all the hard things I had done in my life. Move overseas in my twenties; seek treatment for my anxiety disorder; survive two pregnancy losses; teach an extraordinarily difficult group of teenagers without quitting. It was a helpful exercise, because I don’t normally think of myself as tough or courageous. But by looking at all the hard things I’d already done, I realized that maybe I could expect a little more from myself than I normally do.

This Gospel passage also invites us to think of how we can stretch ourselves. Right before today’s reading, Jesus has delivered the extremely challenging teaching about the Eucharist, telling His hearers that unless they eat His flesh and drink His blood they will not have eternal life. They say to each other, This saying is hard; who can accept it? Many don’t try. They hit a wall and back off instead of finding a way to scale that wall using faith as their rope.

But to reject Christ’s invitation here is to reject the Eucharist, and that’s a huge loss. The older I get, the more I realize that meeting Jesus every Sunday is absolutely critical to my ability to navigate life’s challenges. No matter how fearful, anxious, stressed out, or ready to quit my job I may be, I am always grounded by that close encounter with Jesus at Mass. The mystery of the Eucharist is not easy to grasp; how can He be truly present in that bread and wine? Those people in the Gospel were right. It is hard.

But I’ve found—much like Saint Peter, I guess—that in the long run, it’s harder not to believe in the radical love of God.  When we embrace the challenge of His love, we are changed, body and soul. We learn to see ourselves as He does, and we discover that we’re far stronger than we ever imagined we could be.

Make a list of all the hard things you’ve done in your life. Recognize that God has been with you through every one of those challenges and will be with you through all those to come.

photo credit

Ginny Kubitz Moyer is a mother, high school English teacher, and BBC period drama junkie. She is the author of Taste and See: Experiencing the Goodness of God with Our Five Senses and  Random MOMents of Grace: Experiencing God in the Adventures of Motherhood. Ginny lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, two boys, and about thirty thousand Legos. You can find out more about her here

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