John 6

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1 2 After this, Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee (of Tiberias).

Jesus wished to be alone with His Apostles so He could pray. He had just healed a man on the Sabbath and taught a crowd about eternal life and how Moses spoke about Him.

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A large crowd followed him, because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick.

The crowd followed Jesus because they believed He was a prophet.

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Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples.

Jesus liked to pray on top of mountains, and this for three reasons: 1) It was the Jewish custom of the time, 2) It points back to Mount Siana, where God spoke to Moses, and 3) In light of two, Jesus is about to give a discourse.

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The Jewish feast of Passover was near.

John not only lets us know the historical setting of this discourse but also sets us up for what it’s going to be about.

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3 When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?”

“Raised his eyes” means He was just praying when He saw the crowd coming to Him; His prayer is a less-than-obvious reference to the consecration of the bread and wine at the Last Supper. The reason He asks Philip the question is because the Apostle is a shy and sober-minded man, and God uses lowly men to show His glory.

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4 He said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do.

Jesus dosen’t test Philip like the devil tests man but tests him in that He wished to see how strong Philip’s faith is; the Apostles had just witnessed Him heal a man.

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Philip answered him, “Two hundred days’ wages 5 worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little (bit).”

The Apostles must have been thinking, “Is He crazy? He can’t feed all those people!” because the crowd was enormous; Philip’s answer hints at this. The answer given lets the reader know that many people are coming to Jesus - that is, He wishes to feed the whole world.

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One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him,

This isn’t just to establish historicity but to point to the confession of Peter, to the office that Jesus gave to him, and to the job of fishermen that the brothers once had, which in turn points to the Resurrection, where Jesus would make the disciples catch a lot of fish on the Sea of Galilee - the same lake they just crossed.

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"There is a boy here who has five barley loaves 6 and two fish; but what good are these for so many?"

Loves and fish is an ancient Christian symbol for the Eucharist, and it refers forward to the risen Lord meeting His disciples on the shore of Lake Galilee. Andrew’s statement is doubtful, which is ordinary, but it also sets up the reader for what is going to happen; to the early Christians, it would be the equivalent of a narrator saying, “Okay, now in this next scene, the hero is going to do something extraordinary, so pay close attention!”

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Jesus said, “Have the people recline.” Now there was a great deal of grass 7 in that place. So the men reclined, about five thousand in number.

You could just hear the early reader groaning (“Oh come on, are you just going to spell it out for me?”)! This would be lost on the modern reader, though, unless he was familiar with ancient symbols. Grass refers to springtime, which in turn refers to the Passover, which in turn refers back to what Jesus is going to talk about, and it refers to a pasture, which in turn refers to both the Word and the Eucharist. The number five thousand refers to the Death and Resurrection of Jesus (His five wounds), which gives further clue as to what Jesus is going to talk about. And Jesus having the peope recline refers to the Apostles reclining at the table in the Upper Room on Passover.

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Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted.

An obvious reference to the Last Supper and to the Eucharist. A less-than-obvious reference to the manna that rained down from Heaven for the Israelites in the desert.

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When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.”

A less-than-obvious reference to the ancient celebration of the Mass, where any fragments of the Eucharist were gathered up.

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So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets 8 with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat.

The number twelve symbolizes the Twelve Apostles and the twelve tribes of Israel, and the number five again refers to the five wounds of Jesus. Jesus is going to feed all of Israel and His Apostles are going to “do this in remembrance of Me.”

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When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, “This is truly the Prophet, 9 the one who is to come into the world.”

I love this verse. It shows that Jesus’ crowd wasn’t idiots. They recognized a miracle, whereas a skeptical biblical scholar would think they’re gullible and superstitious. “The Prophet” is the one who Moses said would come after him, who would be greater than him; remember how Jesus taught the people about how Moses spoke about him? Now they are convinced He was spoken of by Moses; they now believe He is the Messiah.

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Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain alone.

Jesus goes back up the mountain to retreat from political power. He knew the Jews wanted Him to overthrow the Emperor and be their sovereign king, much like how the Emperor ruled. But “My Kingdom is not of this world”. It is also interesting that this refers back to Mount Siana, where Moses went up the mountain to meet the Lord and was a very long time from coming back down.

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10 When it was evening, his disciples went down to the sea,

Just as the Israelites grew tired of Moses not coming down from the mountain to give them the Commandments, so too, the Apostles have grown weary of waiting for the Lord to come and decided to leave. Jesus is familiar with the area, so they know He’ll know where to find them. This passage is a reference to the Second Coming and to the Resurrection.

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embarked in a boat, and went across the sea to Capernaum. It had already grown dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them.

Capernaum is the hometown of Peter, Andrew, James, John, and Matthew. Jesus would sleep at Peter’s house during the nights here, so Peter’s house would become an important meeting place for the early Christians. This passage is another reference to the Second Coming.

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The sea was stirred up because a strong wind was blowing.

In the Psalms, it is said the primitive sea was chaotic. This is what the passage is talking about.

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When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea 11 and coming near the boat, and they began to be afraid.

In the Psalms, God tramples on the sea, just as His Spirit hovered over the water in Genesis; He conqures the sea and sets its limit against the earth. Jesus is showing the Apostles He is God, but they, in the darkness, mistake Him for a ghost or a spirit.

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But he said to them, “It is I. 12 Do not be afraid.”

Jesus quotes the Old Testament, which He will do again when He appears to the Apostles in the Upper Room in His glorified body. He tells the Apostles that He is Peace Itself, which is what God is called in the Old Testament.

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They wanted to take him into the boat, but the boat immediately arrived at the shore to which they were heading.

This is another miracle, and it refers to the Second Coming.

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13 The next day, the crowd that remained across the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not gone along with his disciples in the boat, but only his disciples had left.

“The next day” is a Sunday. Remember the miracle of the loaves the previous day? This is where it all comes together. Sunday is the Day of the Lord, when Christians gather to celebrate the Eucharist. The crowd is shown to be more faithful to God than the Apostles; they stayed for Jesus, while His friends did not. This is meant to show that the Apostles weren’t saints or supermen. Also, the crowd is perplexed as to how Jesus slipped away from them, when they never saw Him leave.

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14 Other boats came from Tiberias near the place where they had eaten the bread when the Lord gave thanks.

The other boats are the boats of fishermen; this is a reference to how the Apostles are now fishers of men and how Jesus is the Great Fish and Bread of Life, i.e., the Eucharist that all souls hunger for.

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When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into boats and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus.

This must have been quite a sight! Thousands of people cramming into boats just to cross a lake all at once to go to the Messiah; I’m sure anyone looking on would have been very perperlexed as to what was going on. Also, interesting note: the crowd is acting like a flock of sheep. This is a reference to Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who lays down His life for His sheep, and who takes it up again three days later. He’s the only Shepherd who can both lay down His life and take it up again for His sheep. He’s also the only Shepherd who can give His life to His sheep, since He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

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And when they found him across the sea they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”

The crowd is honestly curious as to how Jesus left, and is acting like children who act nice for their parents just so they can get something from them.

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Jesus answered them and said, "Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled.

Here Jesus makes a distinction between recognizing His work and seeing Him work. He didn’t want to feed the crowd just because they were hungry but because He wanted to teach them. They misunderstood, which is common for a prophet’s work, and which God permitted so He could teach the crowd about Himself, just as He permitted the pharoh to be stubborn so He could show His glory to the nations.

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Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, 15 which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal."

Jesus speaks about spiritual works, not labor or employment. He tells the crowd they ought to work for eternal food, which they think means the same as the “eternal treasure” He spoke of earlier. Jesus uses the title “Son of Man” in reference to the Book of Daniel, where one like a man was given messanicship; this is made clear by Jesus when He says the Son of Man has been sealed - that is, anointed as King of the Jews. Jesus usually speaks of God as His Father, but here He speaks of God as the Father, which is a reference to the Old Testament and which is a reference to Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist: by these three sacraments, a man is initiated into the Church of Christ.

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So they said to him, “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?”

The crowd wants to know how to earn the eternal food, because in that time, you didn’t eat unless you worked. This is what Saint Paul refers to in his epistle, which shows he was familiar with the gospel.

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Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.”

It’s interesting to note that the Evangelist John “copied” Jesus’ way of speaking, and this is especally seen in his epistles. Here, Jesus says that faith is necessary to receive Holy Communion.

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So they said to him, "What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do?

The crowd wants another sign. They believe Jesus is the Messiah and think He’ll do what they want. But He won’t satisfy their curosity (or their hunger for food).

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16 Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’"

“Give us food that will last forever and we will never go hungry again!”

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So Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.

Jesus tells the crowd that He isn’t referring to material food but to spiritual food, heavenly food, the food of angels. But the crowd is going to be a little slow, because the Jews believed the manna was the food of angels. “My Father” is Jesus’ way of claiming Divinity.

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For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."

The crowd dosen’t understand Jesus is calling Himself God - most likely because it would have been unthinkable to them to consider the Messiah God - but it dose understand that Jesus is saying He can give them bread that will last forever and that will give them eternal life.

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So they said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

This like one of the petitions of the Lord’s prayer: “Give us this day our daily bread”. It is also like Jesus’ promise: “I will be with you always, even to the end of the ages.” Basically, Jesus is the Eucharist and the Eucharist, being the thanksgiving offering that is said to last forever when the Messiah comes (when all other offerings will cease), will last forever.

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17 Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.

The crowd would be alarmed at Jesus’ words, because He was telling them He is the eternal food itself and they have to actually eat Him in order to have eternal life.

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But I told you that although you have seen (me), you do not believe.

This is a jab at those Christians who see the Eucharist but don’t believe it is Jesus.

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Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me,

The Father has given everything to the Son and the Son has given everything to those who come to Him. Jesus makes it explictedly clear that He is calling Himself God’s Son.

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because I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me.

Jesus makes it even more clear He is God the Son, and He dose the Will of the Father just as a son obeys his father.

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And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it (on) the last day.

Jesus makes it explictedly clear that what the Father gave Him was a body, and to those who come to Him for eternal life, He gives them His body to eat. He also alludes to His redemptive mission, that is, to His Death and Resurrection, which is the literal fulfillment of the Passover, while the Eucharist is the spiritual fulfillment of the Passover (remember what Jewish feast day is near?).

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For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him (on) the last day."

Jesus has come to redeem mankind so everyone can, in Him, have eternal life and be raised to glory. This is an allusion to Jesus being the New Adam and the Lamb of God.

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The Jews murmured about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven,”

The crowd begins to get really uneasy at Jessu’ obscene teaching. They think He is calling on them to perform cannibalism, that is, to eat His flesh.

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and they said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? Do we not know his father and mother? Then how can he say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”

The crowd think “the Father” is Joseph the carpenter, because they don’t understand He is claiming Divinity, so they wonder how He could come from Heaven.

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Jesus answered and said to them, "Stop murmuring 18 among yourselves.

Jesus speaks like God dose when He led the Israelites through the desert. Just as God told them to stop murmuring about Moses, so He tells them to stop murmuring about Him.

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No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day.

This has a double meaning: on one hand, it means those who heed God’s Word are drawn to Jesus, and, on the other hand, it means faith is a grace and faith is required to accept Jesus, the Word of God Incarnate.

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It is written in the prophets: ‘They shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me.

Jesus again claims to be God, and He says whoever lives the Torah wiill come to Him. Only those who do the Will of the Father attain eternal life.

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Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father.

“I and the Father are One.”

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Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.

Whoever has faith and eats Jesus has eternal life.

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I am the bread of life.

Jesus is the bread that not only gives eternal life but is eternal life itself.

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Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died;

Now Jesus makes a difference between food and the Eucharist.

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this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die.

And He makes a difference between earthly life and eternal life.

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I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world."

Jesus is the Son of God Incarnate, the Redeemer of the world, the redemptive bread, the Sacrament of Redemption, and whoever eats Him will have eternal life, and the bread is not bread but His flesh, which He will sacrifice to redeem the world. Jesus connects the Last Supper to His Death and Resurrection.

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The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?”

“The Jews” is used here instead of “the crowd” because it foreshadows Jesus’ Passion. The disbelieving Jews will hand Him over to be crucified. The nation He knew dose not know Him.

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Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.

He makes His words even clearer: The Son of Man, the Messiah, will give His life for His sheep as a Good Shepherd, and the Jews must eat and drink Him in order to share in God’s life. He is the paschal lamb. This would be considered a very obsense and perverse teaching to the Jews, who were forbidden from consuming blood.

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Whoever eats 19 my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.

Whoever consumes Jesus partakes of God’s life in Him, just as He is in him.

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For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.

Jesus dispels any belief that He is speaking metaphorically; He is literally telling the Jews to eat and drink Him.

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Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.

The Eucharist is Jesus and it makes the Church. Jesus is God and God is Love, and Love is what unites the believers. “Abide in Me and I will abide in you.”

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Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.

The God of the living created Jesus’ Humanity and united to His Son, who is eternally begotten of the Father; God from God, Light from Light. Just as He is begotten of the Father, so too those who feed on the Lamb will be adopted sons of the Father, and will have eternal life, living and reigning with God forever.

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This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever."

The Son has given Himself as bread for the world, and whoever eats Him, lives forever.

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These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

The synagogue is a public place, and it refers to the trial of Jesus, when He will be accused of speaking in secret. But it also refers to the fulfillment of the Law and the replacement of the Passover by the Eucharist, which will in turn fulfill the Passover. God promised to not only deliver the Israelites but also to redeem them and bring them to eternal life; this is what Jesus is referring to when He speaks of redemption and life everlastng.

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20 Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?”

Many of the Father’s adopted disciples were doubting Jesus.

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Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, "Does this shock you?

He knew what they speaking in secret, and brought it out to public, juding the disciples, just, when He judges mankind, He will make every secret word and thought known.

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What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 21

The imagery of ascension means the Son of Man is divine. It was common to use to show a figure was a god in that time.

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It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh 22 is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

Jesus earlier taught that God is Spirit, and here He drives it home that He is God and His words are what give eternal life. It is a reference to the Old Testament, which He quoted when Satan tempted Him.

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But there are some of you who do not believe." Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him.

Jesus is God, and He dose not lose His life but hands it over. He knows who are His and who are not. He knows whom the Father has given Him, whom listen to Moses and so will listen to Him, just as He said earlier that only those who heed the Scriptures will heed His words. Those who do not live the Torah will not understand Him, the Word Incarnate.

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And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.”

Faith is a gift, a grace, not something one earns, and only those whom the Father has chosen can come to the Son. That is, only those who respond to God’s call, come to Jesus. Those who reject God, reject His Son.

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As a result of this, many (of) his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.

Many returned to sin and no longer followed Him.

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Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?”

Now Jesus turns to the leaders of His Church. He turns to the Apostles and to the bishops of the Church, and asks if they too will be apostates.

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Simon Peter answered him, "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.

Peter, the Prince of the Apostle, replies for the others and confesses He believes salvation comes from God through Jesus. This is because the Pope speaks on behalf of the Church and is the Supreme Pontiff. Just as the Eucharist makes the Church and Christ is Head of the Church, so too, the Pope unites the Church and is the Vicar of Christ.

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We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God."

This is a biblical example of the Magisterium of the Church (“We”), which infallibly confesses that Jesus is God and Messiah. The Magisterium confirms the teaching of the Word, which it serves, and, together with the Word and Tradition, it proclaims that Jesus is the Lord and the Messiah. The three sources of Christian faith - Scripture, Tradition, and the Magisterium - all proclaim that Jesus is God and Christ, just as the whole Trinity at Jesus’ Baptism proclaimed that Jesus is God and Christ.

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Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you twelve? Yet is not one of you a devil?”

“It is not you who chose Me, but I who chose you,” But not everyone accepts the vocation to Jesus; some, like Judas, reject the call. This is another foreshadowment of Jesus’ Death, which is connected to the Blessed Sacrament.

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He was referring to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot; it was he who would betray him, one of the Twelve.

This is an interesting note. Judas Iscariot is a double name that means “Judas the Iscariot” (Iscariot means “Cariothian”). This also goes for Simon Peter (“Simon the Rock”) and Jesus Christ (“Jesus the Messiah”).

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