Father, may these spoken words be faithful to the written word and lead us to the living word, Jesus Christ our Lord
What is it like to have all the answers?
There are people out there who my Nan would have described as having the gift of the gab. This means that they could talk themselves out of any situation and pretty much have an answer for everything.
It is a trait of us humans to want to find an explanation for everything that we experience. Science has helped us to do this and as we speak there is a probe hurtling through space that has been sent to help us learn more about the sun.
Today’s Gospel reading is one that is sent to probe and raise more questions to help us learn more about what it means to follow Jesus. There is no clear or easy answers from a teaching that is described by Jesus’ disciples as being difficult and hard to accept. This teaching causes a bit of a stir, that shakes the foundations of those who follow Jesus so much that by the end of the passage some have turned away from Him and left the group.
To accept this teaching of Jesus’ words to eat His flesh and drink His blood to abide in Him is pretty difficult, especially for us who require to have all the answers.
How many questions do we have racing around our minds after we hear these instructions of eating and drinking Jesus to obtain eternal life.
But, like us, the disciples are used to Jesus’ teachings through His parables, and this further teaching about Jesus being the bread of life takes the metaphorical description of bread to an even deeper level. It points the disciples forward to the mysterious power of the cross.
To be Christians is to be marked with the sign of the cross, the baptismal mark of incorporation with Christ. As we trace the cross over our foreheads we remember that the cross on which our saviour and God hung, made no logical sense at all.
Bonhoeffer describes Good Friday as us celebrating the fact that God let’s himself be pushed out of the world onto the cross. St Paul says that God has chosen what is foolish in the world to confound the wise (1cor:27) and that anyone who claims to be wise in this age, that person must become a fool in order to become wise (1cor18:25).
There is teaching here to understand that our desire to fulfil all our human and fleshy explanations, to have all the answers to explain everything to rationalise the cross just doesn’t work.
We have to enable with the spirit to have knowledge.
The cross is the focal point for the knowledge of God, the heart of the mystery of God’s being, the centre of all faith and theology.
The cross and the difficult journey towards it through Jesus’ teachings can not be marked by offence or tragedy, but only as victory and liberation, of hope and where by believing and following Jesus we choose to live.
Jesus says that the spirit gives life and the flesh is useless, the flesh wants to stop walking with Jesus and walk away because it doesn’t understand, but with the spirit that burns inside our hearts knows the deep love of our God who is the God of life.
In the Old Testament, in the book of Deuteronomy God speaks to the Israelites and asks them to continue to walk forward in the blessings of God by choosing life. We hear the echoes of these teaching in the Joshua reading today. By choosing life they promise to walk in God’s ways, observing His commandments and to love the Lord our God.
This choice of life is given to the disciples in the Gospel today, Jesus say that words he has spoken are spirit and life. A unity of fleshy ways and the knowledge of God that the spirit gives them to keep walking with Jesus.
The spirit gives us life in the difficult teachings, when we are out of our comfort zones we learn, we deepen our belief, we strengthen out trust in Him.
When we hold the bread that is the body of Christ we hold and fulfil our hunger for the one who came to show us how much God loves us. As we drink His blood we quench the thirst for the knowledge of life that is promised to us. Through this Holy Communion, He dwells in our bodies, He abides in us as we abide in Him.
There must be a connection between our spirituality and our fleshy human life. We cannot put our human behaviours in one box and our church life in another. To keep moving forward with Jesus out faith must overlap in our everyday lives, we are marked by the sign of the cross and that travels with us.
When we feel like we have all the answers, or that theology is a by product of being a member of God’s church we have to step back and think of Jesus’ hard teachings. When we say that we are Christians that also means we eat the flesh and drink the blood of Jesus.
Discipleship and human life is meant to work together. God created us this way and He asks us to choose life, not death.
The only one who has all the answers is Jesus, He is the way the truth and the life.
At the end of the Gospel reading, at the end of His teaching Jesus asks the Disciples, after the others had turned back, “do you also wish to go away?”
He asks us the same question “do you also wish to go away?”
We answer with Simon Peter, Lord to whom 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.