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Friends, in today’s Gospel, we learn that many disciples left the Lord because he said they had no life unless they were to eat his flesh and drink his blood.

Why has the gift of the Eucharist been, from the beginning, a source of contention? Why have we, from Jesus’ time to the present day, been fighting over it? Shouldn’t it be the source of our unity and deepest joy? Well, yes. But we can’t overlook the fact that it has always divided—just as Jesus himself divided people: “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”

When they heard Jesus lay out the teaching in all of its power, many of them left. In fact, so many left that Jesus wondered aloud to his disciples, “Do you also want to leave?” You get the sense that the whole Church, the whole Christian project, was hanging in the balance.

How wonderful that Peter responds, as he did in the synoptic Gospels to another of Jesus’ probing questions, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” That is the great Catholic answer, the hinge, the cardinal point.