Pope Francis investigates the disbelief of disciples who turn away from Christ in today's Angelus address.
Pope Francis asks a striking question in today’s Angelus address concerning disbelief. Following the teaching of John 6, known as the Bread of Life Discourse, many hearers of Jesus turned away from the Lord. The Gospel states, “As a result of this, many [of] his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him” (John 6:66).
Today, Pope Francis asks, “Where does this disbelief come from? What is the reason for this rejection?”
The scandal of the Incarnation
The answer, says Pope Francis lay in the scandal of the Incarnation. “One must not pursue God in dreams and in images of grandeur and power,” says the Holy Father, “but He must be recognised in the humanity of Jesus and, as a consequence, in that of the brothers and sisters we meet on the path of life.” The Incarnation, God taking flesh, is an obstacle of belief for Jesus’ hearers. “The incarnation of God is what provoked scandal,” says Pope Francis. “[It] presented an obstacle for those people – but often for us too.”
Where can we seek Christ? Pope Francis says, “He humbled Himself to the extent of burdening Himself with our sufferings and sin.” Christ teaches us to seek Him “in life, in history, in our daily life.”
The mystery of the Eucharist
Encountering Christ in his humanity, says the Pope, is difficult for many. “This ‘scandalousness’ is well represented by the sacrament of the Eucharist,” says Pope Francis. “What sense can there be, in the eyes of the world, in kneeling before a piece of bread?”
Our Lord’s miraculous multiplication of loaves won him acclaim in the eyes of the world, Pope Francis pointed out. “But when He Himself explained that the gesture was a sign of His sacrifice, that is, of the gift of His life, His flesh and blood,” continued the Holy Father, “and that those who want to follow Him must resemble Him, His humanity given for God and for others, then no, this Jesus no longer was no longer liked.”
To be preserved from disbelief, says Pope Francis, “let us ask for the grace to let ourselves be provoked and converted by His “words of eternal life.”