Living the Gospel – August 26, 2018

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“Do you also want to leave?” Jesus asks his closest friends, the twelve apostles. I cannot help but wonder what Jesus was feeling at this time. Was he frustrated, angry or what strikes me personally—just sad?

What a 24 hours he’d had! He’d fed thousands, tried to get away to rest, was pursued by a crowd who wanted more—more signs and probably more free food! Then Jesus had given his most challenging teaching ever: “I am the Bread of Life. Eat my flesh and drink my blood and you will live forever!” The greatest offer given to humanity – ever! And many of his listeners turned away and left him! (In some ways you can hardly blame them. This WAS a “hard” teaching. To ask a Jewish person to drink blood was tantamount to forcing an ultra-orthodox Jew to eat pork!).

Jesus had to be physically and emotionally exhausted. His greatest desire was to bring everyone to the Father and part of this was to share Himself in such a special way. And now many refused his teaching and left him. This is why, I think, sadness permeated his question to the apostles. Yet one of the most notable aspects of this entire scene is that Jesus lets the people go! He does not call them back. “Hey, guys, come back! I can explain!” He presented, He invited and the people had total freedom to accept what he said or not. He invites ALL. Whether to accept that invitation and follow Him is totally up to the individual.

It is very true that following Jesus isn’t always easy! It is also true that we don’t always understand his teachings and his ways. I think that is especially true in today’s society. It certainly would have been easier for the apostles to walk away! At this point their faith was fledging. They were Jewish with the same beliefs the crowd had. Yet, they had faith in Jesus. That is what true faith is: Believing without seeing or understanding. There was a line in Fr. Bebel’s homily a couple weeks ago when he was speaking about the Eucharist. I’ve heard it many times before, but it struck me again— “We believe it’s the Body and Blood of Christ even though we don’t understand it. We CAN’T understand it!” It takes true commitment to Jesus Christ to have full faith in Him and to follow Him.

How committed are we to Christ? Do we turn away when His teachings get hard to accept? Are we committed enough to stay with him through good times and bad? Life certainly throws us lemons in many, many different ways. Can we be faithfully committed through issues with marriage and family, jobs and finances, sickness and health and whatever other challenges life brings—good and bad.?

Where would YOU go? “Do you also want to leave?“

Linda Caminiti