21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
You Can’t Handle the Truth
Mass at Capernaum
We have all faced moments like this in our lives. Maybe it was Mom and Dad sitting us down to hit us with the hard truth, the stark reality of life. Maybe we messed up and now it was time to come clean and face the punishment. Maybe it was having to deal with a harsh reality: a sudden death or illness, the breakup of a family or a relationship, or the boss sitting us down for a performance review that does not go well.
Harsh, stark reality! In the times we live in, this strikes home even more acutely. Sitting our children down to talk to them about Covid! Having to explain what a Delta variant is! And searching for ways to answer the tough questions! Why can’t I visit grampa in the hospital? Why isn’t school like it used to be? Why do I have to wear a mask again? Why do we have to be so careful about what we do and where we go? Why do I have to do my school work? You’re not my teacher! Why? There are no easy questions and certainly no easy answers!
Many of Jesus’ disciples, in today’s Gospel, also have a difficult time with the truth. Jesus is offering them His Body and Blood; He is offering them eternal life. And they can’t accept it; they refuse to believe it. From their perspective, what Jesus offers them seems to be totally abhorrent and distasteful. Jewish law prohibits the eating of blood; in fact there are many rules about properly slaughtering animals so that all blood is removed. How can He offer us His Body and Blood to eat?
In fact, after hearing Jesus’ words on “I am the Bread of Life”, many of His disciples walk away and go back to their former lives . Instead of moving forward in life and in faith, they choose to go back to the way things used to be. They turn their backs on life eternal and head home.
So Jesus asks the Apostles whether they are going to leave as well. And Peter answers with a stunning profession of faith. Where else should we go? You have the words of eternal life! We know that you are the Holy One of God! It is a very profound and public statement of faith! It should be a reminder to us all of the words we proclaim at Mass. Our own profession of faith! The Nicene Creed! For Peter and the disciples, these were not just words; they were a commitment to a life of faith, a commitment to move forward. What about us? Is the Creed just a bunch of words? Does it have meaning? Do we live out the Creed in our daily lives?
In moments of trial and testing, when life hits us with harsh reality, Jesus asks us the same question! Are you going to leave me? Are you going to turn your back on me? Or will you continue to follow me? Will we profess our faith in our words and in our actions?
Great Spirit, guide me today through the harshness of life. If my eyes cause confusion, let me close them and see through Your eyes. If my ears hear anger and doubt, let me listen to Your words of comfort. Be my strength today and every day. Aho.