Sunday Reflection: 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 21, 2021

Sunday reflection by Rev. Peter Stamm, Theology Professor - August 22, 2021

“This saying is hard; who can accept it?”

On most Sundays this August, we have listened to excerpts from Christ’s Bread of Life Discourse. Taken from the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel, this collection of sayings contains Jesus’ most clear and explicit teachings on the Eucharist.

Today we hear how those teachings were received by those who had gathered around Jesus: Many of the crowd didn’t like what they heard, and as a result, they stopped following Jesus. Christ does not alter or dilute His teachings in order to win them back. Having spoken clearly, He remains faithful to the truth about Himself, even though this results in diminished popularity among the people and a reduced number of followers.

Priests will sometimes find that in spite of their personal kindness and their carefully considered words, their preaching elicits a similar reaction - “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” In each generation, many people reject Jesus and His teachings. Why should we be surprised if it is no different in our own time?

At Saint John’s Seminary, we aim to form seminarians who have a realistic understanding of the challenges and opportunities that await 21st century parish priests. Our hope is that each man preparing for ordination will echo the words of St. Peter and the other apostles who constituted the faithful minority that clung to Christ: “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.”

This tenacious clinging to the revealed truth of Jesus Christ would produce abundant fruit. Commissioned to preach to the nations, these apostles would inspire many others, although opposition to their message would cost them much suffering and even their very lives.

Please pray for our seminarians - your future parish priests - that they may courageously and compassionately proclaim Christ, in season and out of season.