O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
you filled your disciples with boldness and fresh hope:
strengthen us to proclaim your risen life
and fill us with your peace,
to the glory of God the Father.
How shall I repay the Lord
for all the benefits he has given to me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call upon the name of the Lord.
I will fulfil my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people.
Precious in the sight of the Lord
is the death of his faithful servants.
O Lord, I am your servant,
your servant, the child of your handmaid;
you have freed me from my bonds.
I will offer to you a sacrifice of thanksgiving
and call upon the name of the Lord.
Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.
When many of the disciples heard Jesus, they said, ‘This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?’ But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, ‘Does this offend you? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But among you there are some who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. And he said, ‘For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.’
Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. So Jesus asked the twelve, ‘Do you also wish to go away?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.’
To believe in Jesus Christ, to put our faith in the man who died and rose from the dead, to trust that, two thousand years ago, God lived as one of us, is to put a strain on our ‘modern’ credibility. Taken as a bald list of facts the reality of Jesus Christ can be seen as too incredible for us to believe. But, that is what we are called to do … to believe that God shared in the totality of the human experience in order that, through his conquering of mortal death, he might open the door to eternal life for all who are faithful to him.
In our reading we heard many disciples say: This teaching is difficult; who can accept it? Perhaps you have heard those amongst whom you live say similar things … perhaps you have uttered these words yourself! But … we are all called to step outside the world of logic and science and to enter the realm of faith, faith in Our Risen Lord and God, Jesus Christ.
Too often we become absorbed in what we perceive to be our ability to understand that which previous generations have considered to be unknowable. As human intellect and knowledge has developed, we have come to assume that we have the ‘right’ to know and understand everything and, thereby, control everything. But, to adopt such an arrogant attitude is to leave no room for God, the one who, by definition, is beyond our understanding.
All Christians are called to journey in faith. To have faith is to trust in the unseen and the incomprehensible. For many this is too big a thing to ask but, for those who are able to take that leap, it offers a reward beyond our wildest imaginings.
At the end of our reading for today Jesus asks: Do you wish to go away? He was asking his disciples if they wanted to join those who were not prepared to take that leap into the unknown, that leap into the dark that would bring them into the divine light that can never be extinguished.
The question for us is simple. Do we wish to go away? Do we wish to turn our backs on all that Jesus has done for us, or are we ready to have faith in God’s incredible gift to us?
Prayers of intercession
In the life of the Spirit, let us pray to the Lord.
Keep the Church faithful in word and sacrament to the gospel entrusted to her. Make her ministers and her people worthy of the service to which they have been called by the Father.
Bring the light of the Spirit into the world where many trust only in the flesh and walk in darkness. Bless those who teach and all those who learn, that the words of truth may be known to all.
Grant that we shall never betray, by word or deed, the faith which we profess. Empower us an examples of love to those whose lives touch our own. Bless all in this community who are charged with the guidance of others, that they may speak in truth and live according to their teaching.
We pray for those who have lost their faith, who have turned away from the path which they once followed. Bring them back, to hear and believe again the words of eternal life.
Receive in mercy the souls of the departed who have walked with their Lord through this world. Bring them to eternal life in heaven where he has ascended.
We offer our prayers through Christ, the Holy One of God.
Prayer for the week
Eternal God, in whom is all our hope
in life, in death, and to all eternity;
grant that, rejoicing in the eternal life which is ours in Christ,
we may face whatever the future holds in store for us
calm and unafraid,
always confident that neither death nor life
can part us from your love in Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.
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