Daily Homily: You Have the Words of Eternal Life

Saturday of the Third Week of Easter

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Acts 9:31-42
Psalm 116:12-13, 14-15, 16-17
John 6:60-69

Jesus promises that those who believe in him will do the works that he accomplished (John 14:12). In today’s Gospel, Peter includes himself in the group of those who have come to believe in Jesus as the Holy One of God, and, in the first reading, we see Peter accomplish the works of Jesus Christ.

During his public ministry, Jesus restored at least three people to life: Jarius’ daughter (Matthew 9:24-25; Mark 5:40-42; Luke 8:49-56), the widow’s son (Luke 7:11-17), and his friend Lazarus (John 11:1-44). These miracles and signs are all invitations to faith. Jesus tells Jairus: «Do not be afraid; only have faith» (Mark 5:36; Luke 8:50); he tells his disciples: «Lazarus is dead; and for your sake I am glad I was not there because now you will believe» (John 11:15); and he asks Lazarus’ sister Mary: «Whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?» (John 11:26). Jesus’ miracles attest that the Father has sent him. They invite belief in him. «By freeing some individuals from the earthly evils of hunger in justice, illness and death, Jesus performed Messianic signs» (CCC, 549). Peter has experienced Christ and seen his works and, through an act of faith, enters more deeply into communion with Jesus and with the Father. His confession today, «You are the Holy One of God», parallels his confession at Caesarea Philippi, «You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God» (Matthew 16:16).

Peter works the first miracle in the name of Jesus Christ and says to Aeneas: «Jesus Christ heals you. Get up». Peter has received power from Jesus and exercises it in Jesus’ name. As well, he invites Aeneas to a deeper faith in Jesus, who now reigns in heaven. In the second miracle, Peter imitates the words of Jesus to the little girl. Jesus said: «Talitha qum(i)«; Peter says: «Tabitha qum(i). In this way, «Luke continues to show that what the apostles do and say in Acts is continuing what ‘Jesus did and taught’ in the Gospel (Acts 1:1). This occurs as they exercise great faith, confident in Jesus’ power and in their own authority to speak and act in his name under the leading of the Holy Spirit» (Kurz, Acts of the Apostles, Baker, 165).

The Gospel presents two different reactions to Jesus’ Bread of Life discourse. There are many disciples who murmur in protest. In spite of the signs and miracles Jesus has done, they refuse to accept his teaching about the Eucharist: «Unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you» (John 6:53). They refuse to believe, they break away from Jesus and will not accompany him any longer. The opposite response is that represented by Simon Peter, who says to Jesus: «Lord, you have the words of eternal life; and we have come to believe and are convinced that you of the Holy One of God» (John 6:68-69). Peter walks by faith and is confident that by following Jesus he will receive the promise of eternal life.

We learn today that faith is a gift from God that we freely reject or freely accept. That is why Jesus says: «No one can come to me unless it is granted to him by the Father» (John 6:65). God’s grace moves us and assists us in making an act of faith. We freely collaborate with God’s grace; our hearts are moved and converted to God; God opens the eyes of our mind, bringing us out of our spiritual blindness, and enables us to accept and believe the truth (CCC, 153). That truth is that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, sent by the Father to redeem us and save us and bring us into the unity of his family, the Church. In Christ and through him, we are invited to become, in the Holy Spirit, God’s adopted children and heirs of his blessed life (CCC, 1).

Readers may contact Father Jason Mitchell at mitchelljason2011@gmail.com.

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Jason Mitchell

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