19th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year B
John 6: 41-51


by José Antonio Pagola

According to John’s story, Jesus repeats each time more openly that he comes from God to offer everyone a food that gives life eternal. The people can’t keep listening to something so scandalous without reacting. They know his parents. How can he say he comes from God?

None of us should be surprised at their reaction. Does it make sense to believe in Jesus Christ? How can we believe that in that specific person, born shortly before Herod the Great died and known for his prophetic activity in Galilee during the 30s AD, the unfathomable Mystery of God has been incarnate?

Jesus doesn’t respond to their objections. He goes straight to the root of their unbelief: «Stop complaining to each other». It’s wrong to resist the radical novelty of his person by sticking to the thought that they already know everything about his true identity. He will show them the way to go forward.

Jesus proposes that no one can believe in him if they don’t feel themselves attracted by his person. It’s true. Maybe in our culture we understand it better today. It’s not easy for us to believe in doctrines or ideologies. Faith and trust get awakened in us when we feel ourselves attracted by someone who does good to us and helps us live.

But Jesus warns them about something very important: «No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me». Attraction toward Jesus is a result of God and no one else. The Father who has sent him to the world awakens our heart so that we draw near to Jesus with joy and trust, overcoming doubt and resistance.

That’s why we need to listen to God’s voice in our heart and let ourselves be led by God toward Jesus. We need to let ourselves be taught humbly by that Father, Creator of life and Friend of humanity: «Everyone who has listened to the Father, and learnt from him, comes to me».

Jesus’ affirmation ends up revolutionary for those Jews. The biblical tradition said that human beings hear God’s call in their hearts in order to faithfully fulfill the Law. The prophet Jeremiah had proclaimed God’s promise thus: «I will put my Law within you and will write it on your heart».

Jesus’ words invite us to live a different experience. The conscience isn’t just the hidden and privileged place where we can hear God’s Law. If in the intimacy of our being we feel attracted by the good, the beautiful, the noble, what does good to the human being, what builds a better world, then easily we’ll feel ourselves invited by God to be in harmony with Jesus.

José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf