Just imagine for a moment a man standing before a group of people.
Most of them know him, they know his mother, of course, and where he comes from.
He is dressed as they are, he speaks as they do, but… what he says has never been heard before.
He says that he descended from heaven.
He even claims that he can give some food that will enable people to live eternally.
He repeats with conviction that those eating this food will never die.
And he concludes proclaiming that he, himself, is that food.
How do you think people would react?
Voices would rise to jeer, to ridicule, to condemn such claims:
“Who does he think he is?”
“He’s talking nonsense!”
“He’s out of his mind!”
”Eating the flesh of a man, who would do that?”
This is more or less a reproduction of what the scene in today’s gospel offers us (Jn.6:41-51).
The vocabulary may have changed somehow but the reactions of the listeners are very similar:
that kind of speech is just too much of them.
Who could put faith in such extravagant language?
Who would dream of following the Man of Nazareth?
“Heaven… the Father… rise on the last day… eternal life… bread of life… bread that is flesh!”
Could it be that all these words have been part of our religious language for so long that we no longer question their meaning.
In no way do they make us feel uncomfortable…
Do they touch us really?
Do they still question us?
Do they reach us in the depths of our being?
Do we allow them to challenge our faith?
Do they inspire our commitment to that Man, Jesus?
If not, that chapter of John’s gospel is just another… printed text…
We will hear it another time, at another place, perhaps… all the time remaining the same ourselves…
While Jesus is waiting for us… just waiting…
Note: Another reflection is available on a different theme in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/19e-dimanche-de-lannee-b-2021/