First Reading: 1 Jos. 24:1-2a, 15-17, 18b
Psalm: Ps. 34:2-3, 16-17, 18-19, 20-21
SecondReading: Eph. 5:21-32
Or Eph. 5:2a, 25-32
Gospel: Jn. 6:60-69
God uses ordinary things of life in coming to us personally to renew and strengthen us, to assure us of forgiveness and salvation. Christ is with us in all of life. “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.” (John 6:56)
When the disciples complained about this difficult saying, Jesus asked if they were scandalized. Not all the followers of Jesus could accept his words. Some turned away and left him.
Only the twelve disciples seemed faithful. In this setting Simon Peter speaks for the group when they are given the choice between deserting their Lord or not. Peter makes a confession of faith: “Lord, to 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.”
This difficult chapter of John’s Gospel points to an essential truth about Christian faith and life sometimes misunderstood, especially by people outside of the community of believers. Being a Christian is not primarily subscribing to a set of commandments, rules and regulations, nor is it agreeing with certain teachings. Being a Christian is a personal commitment to Jesus Christ, which leads to discipleship. When Jesus asked the twelve if they also wanted to leave him, Peter
responded with conviction – they will follow him.
In today’s reading, the disciples were disturbed because they had to make a decision, a commitment to follow Jesus with all the uncertainty and risk involved. It would be tempting to play it safe and to not stake your life on this Jesus, who might or might not be the Messiah. But Jesus made it plain that a radical, personal commitment is the proper response to the graciousness of God, who comes to love us and save us. Faith is the word, which best describes our response to the God, who enters the world fully and completely in Jesus in order to love us and forgive us.
And for what? That we might share in the gift of life eternal. Faith is not mere intellectual assent, a vague kind of agreement that something is true. It is staking our life on God’s promise. It affects every area of our being.
Christian faith is difficult because it calls on us to give up our independence and to trust totally in God.
We like to have God in our lives, but on our own terms. We also want to have God available for emergencies. There are parts of our lives we’d like to hide from God. For some people the Church is fine unless it interferes with their daily life. There are attractive alternatives seeking our commitment – money, success, popularity, power, sex, and more.
Yet the God who comes to us in Jesus Christ calls us to total commitment. Only when Christ is number one in our lives will all the other blessings of life find their proper place. Christian faith touches every aspect of life. Like the twelve disciples, we are called to follow Jesus totally and without reservation.
God is gracious to you and me, coming to us in Jesus Christ to love us and forgive us as we are and where we are. We are assured of his unfailing love and strength for each day.
As the gracious God comes to us in this Eucharist, let us, likeIsraelof old, respond, “Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.”