Saturday, 20 April 2024. Readings: Acts 9:31-42, Ps. 116:12-17, John 6:60-69

“Jesus asked the twelve, ‘Do you also wish to go away?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom can we go?’” (John 6:56-57)

In today’s first reading, we learn that after the conversion of Saul, the church enjoyed a time of peace. The believers multiplied in strength and number and were comforted by the Holy Spirit. Peter became known as the miracle worker. While we read about the increase in today’s first reading, we are presented with the reality of the decrease in today’s Gospel passage. John reports that many disciples abandoned Jesus after hearing Him teach about giving them His flesh to eat and blood to drink. While they walked away, Jesus did not attempt to call them back, but He turned to his disciples to ask if they, too, wished to go away. What do we learn from these readings? 

1. Life Happens In Seasons, Phases, and Stages: As the book of Ecclesiastes teaches: “For everything, there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). No matter what you are going through today, remember that things would change. A new season is on its way. There is a time for the increase and a time for decrease, a time of peace (as we saw in our first reading) and a time of war, a time for sugarcoated messages and a time for hard truths (to sieve out true believers from fake followers as Jesus did in today’s Gospel passage). 

2. If You Cannot Endure Bad Times, You Don’t Deserve Good Times: By asking if the twelve wished to leave, Jesus was testing their commitment. Like the crowd, Jesus knew that the twelve did not understand the Eucharist, but He wanted to know if their faith was strong enough to withstand tough times. Many couples deceive themselves by attempting to change the wording of their marital vows. They think it is a curse to promise faithfulness for better, for worse, in good times and bad times, sickness and health, and in poverty and riches. Life combines good and bad times, and there is no escaping the bad times. If you cannot endure the bad times, you won’t be around to enjoy the good times. If Peter had walked away from Jesus when He taught about the Eucharist, would he perform signs and wonders in today’s first reading?

3. Lord, To Whom Shall We Go? By allowing many to leave, Jesus teaches us that religion is not by force. The truth is that there are times we feel like leaving the church or abandoning the Christian faith. For instance, when the document on blessing persons in the irregular union came out, many were forced to question their faith. Before you move to follow the crowd, it is important to ask: Will I find what I am looking for elsewhere? If I think God has failed me, will the devil be better? Peter said: “Lord, to whom shall we go?” Sometimes, all we need is to trust God. No one can completely understand God. Some questions will only be answered in heaven. 

4. What Will Be Said About You When You Die? In Acts 9:36-39, we read, “Now there was at Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. In those days, she fell sick and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, imploring him, ‘Please come to us without delay.’ So Peter rose and went with them. And when he had come, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping, showing tunics and other garments Dorcas made while she was with them.” Live a good life so that when you die, no one will have to lie during your funeral. Tabitha was probably not the only Christian who died in that community, but because she was special, the church sent for Peter, and he prayed for her and restored her to life by the power of God.

5. Only Believe, All Things Are Possible: How was Peter able to raise the dead? Jesus says: “Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and will do greater works than these because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name to glorify the Father in the Son. I will do it if you ask me for anything in my name.” (John 14:12-14). 

Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God when I feel like giving up, speak your word to the depths of my heart. Deepen my love for you and work through me always. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen

Remember, amid all challenges, choose to be happy. Live with a positive mindset and believe in God’s plan for you. God bless you abundantly. (Saturday of the 3rd week of Eastertide. Bible Study: Acts 9:31-42, Ps. 116:12-17, John 6:60-69).

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu