It is not easy to follow Jesus. Sometimes, we can follow not Him, but our own desires and channel them through a thin but insubstantial veil of Christianity. The Jesus we follow is relentlessly loving, not least towards those who hate him, those who spurn him. Can we say the same of ourselves? Jesus was full of empathy towards those in distress. He had a way of connecting with those who were hurting, with the outsiders, those whom society loved to spurn. Do we follow his example? Indeed, despite Christ’s constant command to love one another, we can still choose not to do so, or too easily fall when trying.
We may want to follow him because we love him beyond all else. But it is not always easy. Even the disciples who shared his life on earth had a very sobering answer to his question in today’s Gospel. Jesus asked them: “What about you, do you want to go away also?” And Peter replied: “Lord, who shall we go to? You have the message of eternal life, and we believe; we know that you are the Holy One of God.”
On a certain level, it sounds a flaky reply: we follow you because who else is there? Sometimes, that is all we can hope for, too. But Peter added an important point: that they believe.
Believing doesn’t make everything suddenly easy. Belief is not a single-decison way of life. As Christians we must wake up every day and say: yes, today I shall believe. We must renew our belief, renew our devotion to God. Otherwise, we risk what was mentioned at the beginning of this reflection, which is to follow our own desires rather than him. Conversion isn’t a one-stop shop; it must be renewed daily, sometimes hourly.
Many walk away from belief in God because of the demands it asks of us. We are asked to believe in something that, at least on this earth, we are never going to figure out… ever. It is mystery. Yet, with the gift of faith, and a constant renewal of it, we can come to be better followers of Jesus, better emulators of his words and actions.
We pray, then, for the gift of faith, that we may use the gifts that God gives us to walk more wholesomely, more courageously, in his image, to believe where others do not, and to love where others abandon. Amen.
The Lord be with you.
And with your spirit
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John
Glory to you, O Lord.
After hearing his doctrine many of the followers of Jesus said, ‘This is intolerable language. How could anyone accept it?’
Jesus was aware that his followers were complaining about it and said, ‘Does this upset you? What if you should see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before?
‘It is the spirit that gives life,
the flesh has nothing to offer.
The words I have spoken to you are spirit
and they are life.
‘But there are some of you who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the outset those who did not believe, and who it was that would betray him. He went on, ‘this is why I told you that no one could come to me unless the Father allows him.‘
After this, many of his disciples left him and stopped going with him.Then Jesus said to the Twelve,
‘What about you, do you want to go away too?‘
Simon Peter answered, ‘Lord, who shall we go to? You have the message of eternal life, and we believe;
we know that you are the Holy One of God.’
The Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ