Often we find ourselves wondering which way to turn. Life and all its challenges cause us to seek and to search for something. Something greater than us, something beyond our abilities is needed in the midst of wandering and wondering what to do next. When the Lord calls us and challenges us to accept things that are beyond our comprehension we are too often quick to walk away, to run away. If it’s not what I think, if it isn’t my way, if what Christ is calling me to accept goes against my understanding we are jolted and we bolt.
It isn’t always easy doing what the Spirit says do. I recall a great religious woman, Sr. Antonia Ebo, Sr. Antonia was a wise women and activist and marching and standing for civil rights. You would think this women who marched along Martin Luther King would always see eye to eye with me. Well, she didn’t there were times she would get right out angry with me, but she didn’t leave, she never walked completely away, because she knew she “had to do as the Spirit says do.”
How do we respond to the Holy Spirit moving and calling us in our lives? how do we remain faithful when what we seem to be being asked to do goes against what we want, or know or even believe is the best way? The answer is quite simple. Is what I am doing or saying uniting others or dividing others? Is it all about me or is about God and His Spirit truly calling me to a greater and higher level to be a cause for unity? Is my attitude, if they don’t like it they can get over it? Do I think, I’m gonna do what I want to do cause I know I’m right? This is all part of our mental process, we think in doing this we are “doing what the Spirit says do”. We think we’re being true to God and to our faith, when in actuality God wants to do something new in us, God wants to show us a new and even better way. The Divine Life offered by Jesus Christ is that better way, and a complete openness to him calling us to something far beyond ourselves to His glory and building up of His body.
In the Gospel today at the end of the sixth chapter of John, many who heard the words of Jesus left him. Jesus had crossed the line for them, Jesus had just gone to far. You see Jesus was telling them that in order to have life in Him and to be united with the Father the eating and drinking of his blood, real food and drink must be done. He says that participation in the Eucharist is essential and crucial to sharing in the Divine Life. For many followers this was too much. They were fine with Jesus as long as he spoke with power and performed miracles and fed them. They were fine with Jesus when he challenged the religious leaders of their day. They were fine when he calmed the demons and restored the lepers, the lame and the dumb. That was all fine and good, oh and His preaching and teaching was off the chain. Jesus taught with power and authority unlike the scribes. But what Jesus was doing now was too much, they asked “can anyone bear it?”. They liked and even loved him until he went too far.
The Gospel says that not only did they turn away from Jesus, but they returned to their previous way of life. If Christ has enlightened them, given them a new identity in Him, they chose to return to a life in darkness, lifeless and separated from Him. They rejected Christ and chose the life of being lost and wondering with no direction. They preferred this to living in Christ.
Peter’s response is truly phenomenal. Peter found in Jesus something that he knew he couldn’t get anywhere else. Not only was impressed by Jesus actions and His speaches, Peter recognizes in Jesus one who had drastically changed and transformed His life, he knew there would be no one else like Jesus that could offer him the “Word’s of everlasting life.” Wow, Peter saw in Jesus, the Divine Word of God, the Word for everlasting life.
We are very much like those disciples, as long as things are going good. I can sing my song, I can sit in my pew, I can come to church and feel good as I’ve always done. As long as I get my sermon, and as long as I can do things they way I want and the way I know they have been done and must continue to be done I remain committed. I’ll keep coming, I’ll keep donating, I’ll stay with my church. But the very instance I feel hurt, or I am not recognized, or I don’t like something that is said, I’ll twist it misinterpret it and I’m leaving and never coming back. The very moment that man does something I disagree with, I’m out of here, or that women speaks to me the wrong way again.
This is how we are and we all can be sometimes. But this week I turn simply to the words of Peter. “Lord to whom shall we go, you have the word’s of eternal life.” Like Joshua we must make a hard choice. “”If it does not please you to serve the LORD, decide today whom you will serve, As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” Like Peter and Joshua we must make a fundamental choice, I will not allow what anyone sees, says or does to deter me. Even when what Christ is seemingly asking me to do, even if in my spirit and core of myself, I have issue with it, I can still seek Christ and his Divine Action in my life. I have to stop, come out of myself, out of my thoughts, out of the way I know, out of what I am convinced of and be open to a a different way, seeing that Christ’s wisdom and Word draws me deeper into the Divine Life if I just let him.
Lord, to whom shall we Go, You have the Words of everlasting life!