Optional Lectio Divina Prayer
- Read John 6:53–69.
- Meditate on the words.
- Speak to Christ about this passage.
- Rest and listen in God’s presence.
- Discuss together.
Do you know St. Peter’s most heroic moment?
The enthusiastic crowds had been asking Jesus for a miraculous sign, like the manna that Moses provided for the Israelites in the desert. In response, Jesus told them about a greater food he would offer them: his own Body and Blood in the Eucharist. “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (Jn 6:53–54).
But this teaching on the Eucharist was too much for their minds to grasp. Many in the crowds rejected Jesus at this moment, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” (Jn 6:52). Even his own disciples struggled, saying, “This is a hard saying, who can listen to it?” (Jn 6:60). Some of those disciples rejected Jesus and walked away that day.
Turning to the twelve Apostles, Jesus said, “Will you also go away?”
That’s when Peter’s heroic moment came into play. He responds, saying, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God” (Jn 6:68–69).
Notice that Peter doesn’t say, “Jesus, I’ll follow you because this teaching makes perfect sense to me.” Peter is probably just as puzzled as everyone else. But the difference between Peter and the crowds is that he trusts Jesus and stays with him, whereas the others walk away.
Discuss: What stands out to you about Peter’s response? What does this teach you about following Jesus?
LEADING BY FAITH
After all, Jesus himself established the Church so that people throughout the ages could come to know him and his plan for our lives. That’s why he gave authority to his Apostles to teach in his name. He said to them, “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me” (Mt 10:40). That same authority was handed on to the Apostles’ successors, the bishops, throughout the centuries to today.
“He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”
St. Paul warned about times not unlike our own. He emphasized that the most important thing Christian leaders can do in an era of doctrinal and moral confusion is to be steady and grounded in faithfully passing on the truth
Discuss: Have you ever thought of yourself as a representative of Jesus? Have you embraced that responsibility by accepting the teachings of Jesus and his Church? How have you seen Jesus’ teaching come into conflict with the ideas and opinions of the world?
DIFFICULTIES VS. DOUBTS
Here, we need to understand the difference between having a difficulty and having a doubt.
Difficulties are the challenges that we have in understanding a particular aspect of the Catholic Faith. When we face questions about a certain Catholic teaching, a part of us wonders, “Is this right? Could this be true?” But at the same time, we still trust Jesus and the Church more than ourselves, so we’re willing to accept it. Like Peter when he was confronted with Christ’s mind-blowing teaching about the Eucharist, we may not fully understand an aspect of the Catholic Faith, but we still believe it because we believe in Jesus and trust his Church. If Jesus were standing before us when we have these difficulties, we, too, would say, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God” (Jn 6:68–69). As St. John Henry Cardinal Newman once said: “Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt” (CCC 157).
Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt.
Discuss: Do you have any difficulties or doubts? Are there any teachings of the Church that you struggle with? How can you grow toward embracing those teachings wholeheartedly?
GROWING IN FAITH
As you prepare to serve as a leader for Christ and grow in your understanding of the Faith, a great way to reaffirm and deepen your belief in Jesus and the teachings of the Church is to recite a traditional prayer called the “Act of Faith.” Whether you are solid in your convictions about the Catholic Faith or you have questions about certain teachings, the Act of Faith helps you to declare your faith in God and your willingness to trust that the Church teaches the truth. Many saints and ordinary Christians have found strength in making an Act of Faith like this:
Discuss: Do you want to say an Act of Faith right now as a profession of total faith in Jesus and his Church?
Then, make a plan. How can you grow in your understanding of these teachings?
Apostolic Authority: Jesus gave his Apostles authority to teach: “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me” (Lk 10:16). That same authority was handed on to the Apostles’ successors, the bishops, throughout the centuries to today.
Ambassadors for Christ: As members of the kingdom, we are representatives of the king and must faithfully bear witness to his teachings (2 Cor 5:20).
Difficulties vs. Doubt: Difficulties are the challenges that we have in understanding a particular aspect of the Catholic faith. Doubts show a lack of trust in Jesus and the Church he established.
- Why We’re Catholic by Trent Horn
- CCC 142–165: “I Believe”
- CCC 74–95: “The Transmission of Divine Revelation”
- Fides et Ratio by Pope St. John Paul II
- SLS20 Talk on focusequip.org: “Leading from a Catholic Worldview” by Helen Alvaré