At times, we want to leave. We want to leave our jobs, our homes, our educational pursuits. Sometimes we feel like leaving our relationships, friendships, families, even our marriages or our lifelong vocations. Perhaps some have or are considering leaving the Church because of the terrible events that have come to light recently. We want to leave circumstances and persons because we think life would be better in a different place or circumstance than we are in. Sometimes it would be.
In John’s Gospel some want to leave (John 6:60-69). The people had been listening to Jesus saying he is the bread of life and that his flesh is real food and his blood is real drink. As Catholics, we believe Jesus is describing the Eucharist. We believe Jesus when he says that the ones who eat this Bread will live forever. We are reassured of his presence through the Eucharist in all the events and circumstances of our lives. In the Gospel, many people rejected what he was saying. They did not understand his words or they were just completely confused, so they left him. When Jesus asks the 12 apostles if they also will leave, Peter says, “Master, to whom shall we go. You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68)
When we are going through pain, are hurt, deceived, confused or disillusioned by a certain circumstance, institution or person, maybe we wonder if Jesus really is with us. At these moments, we do well to call to mind some of those words of eternal life Peter was speaking about. If not to Jesus, to whom would we go?
After all, who else dared to remove the boundaries of prejudice and hate among people to give us a vision of humanity that excludes no one? Who else gives new meaning to the words brother, sister and neighbor? In a world of violence, who else says to love our enemies? Faced with guilt and sin, who else says you are forgiven, now go and sin no more? Who else is always willing to break Bread with us and hold out to us the Cup of Life? When our world is crashing in on us, who else comes with outstretched hand and tells us not to be afraid?
Is it a crazy dreamer who is saying such words? No, it is Jesus, the Bread of Life. If we left him, to whom would we go?
Together in faith,
Very Reverend Christopher Smith, Rector