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Gospel for Sunday, August 22: John 6: 60-70

XXI Sunday B

60Many of his disciples, after hearing, said: “This language is harsh; who can understand it?”. 61Jesus, knowing within himself that his disciples were murmuring about this very thing, said to them: “Does this scandalize you? 62What if you saw the Son of Man go up where he was before? 63It is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no use; the words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64But there are some among you who do not believe.” In fact, Jesus knew from the beginning who those who did not believe were and who it was who would betray him. 65And he continued: “For this reason I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted to him by my Father”. 66Since then many of his disciples withdrew and no longer went with him. 67Jesus then said to the Twelve: “Perhaps you also want to leave?”. 68Simon Peter answered him: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life; 69we have believed and known that you are the Holy One of God”. 70Jesus replied: “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!”. He was talking about Judas, son of Simon Iscariot: he was in fact about to betray him, one of the Twelve.

John 6: 60-70

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather (

Also today I share with you a short meditation thought on the Gospel, with special reference to the theme of mercy.

“This <> is hard!”

At Jesus’ speech, many of the disciples react with a refusal: “Many of his disciples, after listening, said: «This language is harsh; who can understand it? »… From then on many of his disciples withdrew and no longer went with him” (Jn 6,60.66).

There are three refusals that the disciples oppose to Jesus in the Gospels. The first is the perspective of Christian marriage, that the spouses love each other “as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her” (Eph 5.25), in eternal fidelity (Mt 19.1-9): this determines the reaction of the disciples, who exclaim: “If this is the condition of a man with respect to a woman, it is not worth marrying” (Mt 19.10). The second refusal is related to the Eucharist: faced with a God who becomes bread, who feeds himself to men, “many of his disciples withdrew and no longer went with him” (Jn 6.66). The third refusal is that of the Cross: when Jesus “began to say openly that he had to… suffer a lot… and be killed…, Peter took him aside and began to protest, saying: «God forbid, Lord; this will never happen to you”” (Mt 16,21-22). The refusal of the Cross summarizes the other two: it is “scandal…, foolishness” (1 Cor 1,23) a poor, weak God, who dies like a criminal, taking upon himself all the pains of the world, out of love, only for love; the Eucharist, in which God identifies himself in a piece of bread, is a great sign of this love which reaches the point of completely emptying itself in total gift; Christian marriage is a living prophecy of divine love (Eph 5.25), which is always only self-giving, which never “divorces” us despite all our infidelities, which is to become the servant of our spouse (Eph 5.25-29) , which is called to an inseparable unity (Eph 5.31).

Jesus asks us to enter the logic of love, which is the logic of the Cross, of the Eucharist, of Christian marriage. But “this «Lògos» is hard: who can understand it?” (Jn 6.60), where “lògos” is both the Word of Jesus and Jesus himself, the Lògos, the Word made flesh (Jn 1). Jesus is hard, difficult to follow: “If anyone wants to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Mt 16,24-26: cf. Jn 12, 24-26). This speech is madness for the world, it cannot be understood according to the flesh, but only in the Holy Spirit: “It is the Spirit who gives life, the flesh is of no use; the words that I have spoken to you are Spirit and life” (Jn 6:63).

Choosing Jesus means taking a position between the flesh and the Spirit, between worldly and divine logic, between darkness and light (Jn 3:19-21). Compromises, half measures, partial commitments are not allowed: “Since you are lukewarm, that is, you are neither hot nor cold – says the Lord to the Church of Laodicea -, I am about to vomit you out of my mouth” (Rev 3:16); “The Word of God is sharper than any double-edged sword; it penetrates to the point of division of the soul and the spirit, of the joints and the marrow, and searches the feelings and thoughts of the heart… All is naked and exposed before his eyes and to him we must give an account” (Heb 4,12- 13; cf. Jn 6,61.64). We too must take a stand, for the Lord and his program of total love, or against him.

And this choice must be renewed every day: it is not enough to have entered the Church once and for all: “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” (Jn 6.70). In the Christian community there is Peter the Pope who will deny him, there is Judas who will sell him for thirty denarii, there is Thomas the unbeliever, there are James and John who request positions of power in the Kingdom: permanence in faithfulness does not is guaranteed…

Happy Mercy to all!

Anyone who would like to read a more complete exegesis of the text, or some insights, please ask me at


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