Dear Believers in the Christ,
In John 6:60-69, we hear Jesus say to his disciples, “Do you also want to leave?” Jesus understands that his words and commands will not be accepted by everyone. Not all people will be able to listen with a soft heart or act with his loving power. It seems every day we all must make decisions in our lives about what we believe. Will we entrust our lives to God’s goodness and love, or will we work in this world with only our bloated egos? Will our thoughts and actions be at the center of life, or will we believe that God has a plan for us, even when life is pretty darn complicated?
We live in complicated times. Mass shootings are weekly occurrences. Mental health issues among teens and older citizens seem out of control. Divisions among racial lines, among people with money and power and those with little of each. Control in politics and the cursing of people in the opposite party seem to be considered normal today. It seems that we have already answered Jesus in so many ways; perhaps we have already left him.
In this text Peter answers Jesus with another question, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Peter asks Jesus this question because he has seen with his own eyes the beauty of his relationship with Jesus. He understands his deep human concern for people and Peter has also captured insight about his divine life. Peter has taken the words of Jesus seriously because he knows in his heart that Jesus is the Word-made-flesh.
There are many things that have shattered our rhythms of life in these past two years. We are all still trying to recover from job loss, discovering how to educate our children, and grieving the loss of loved ones who have died in the pandemic. We are all tempted to abandon God who promises to be with us. However, if we settle into our pain, we know that God’s love and purpose in our lives is the only thing that will set us on the path of community, friendship, support, and encouragement.
Some of Jesus’ followers left him. Not everyone today takes faith seriously. Yet, we must take the Eucharist and the scriptures to heart if we are to live with genuine hope. We must live the mystery we celebrate on Sunday. It is not enough for us to just show up at Mass or at our family dinner tables once a week. Our lives are calling out for sincere connection. We must believe that Jesus is in our fear, in our questions about our future, in our inability to calm our restless teens. Here are some things to consider:
1. Admit our restlessness: In our spiritual lives, we take this text seriously. We must admit to Jesus that life is difficult. Assess your life in faith. Tell the truth.
2. Admit we cannot fix our fear: We need something greater than ourselves to survive and for life to flourish. Are we willing to do the work of reflecting on our fear? Or do we just let fear continue to stifle us because it is what we have always known?
3. Admit we need love: Only love will change things. Violence will not change things. Divisions and rage will not change things. Can we decide to turn to love beyond our fear? Can we allow God to love us into the new life we seek?
4. Admit our surrender in God: If we are to grow and mature as human beings, we must surrender to life beyond our anger, our rage, and our addictions. If we are to raise our families to be vibrant contributors to life and the world, then love and hope become central and vital. “Where else shall we go?”
5. Admit we are instruments of hope: If we make our lives available for God, then we learn God uses us for the common good and that is healing, assurance, community, and peace. We become what we seek only in Christ Jesus.
Life is easily bruised. We may blame others for our pain. In Jesus Christ we become instruments of justice, of peace, and gain the courage and conviction to stay with him. We do so because, like Peter, we have seen and witnessed incredible things.
God give you peace,
Fr. Ron Raab, CSC