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?
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