It is very sad to hear in today’s Gospel, Jn 6:60-69, which completes John’s account on ‘The Bread of Life’, ‘after this, many of his disciples stopped going with him’- these were not just people who had stumbled across Jesus that day, they were disciples, they had come to know him, they had witnessed his healings, miracles and listened to his teachings and yet they decided to walk away……they now found his teachings intolerable.
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People still walk away for all kinds of reasons and sometimes very understandable reasons. If we look at the practice of the faith within the Church, many have walked away because they find the experience unwelcoming, judgemental and hypocritical. It’s sobering for us to think about. Those people are in our families and are people close to us. Perhaps this is your experience and perhaps you are wondering why you stay given the present state of the Church and the stories of so many people shamefully hurt by priests and other Church people.
I was sent a quote recently you may find helpful given the present state of things. It certainly speaks to my experience. I am not sure of the source.
"The church has always been a flawed, sinful, human institution filled with darkness and light. In part, I go to church these days to grapple with those contradictions, to find healing in the Eucharist and strength standing next to my fellow weary travellers."
Jesus at the end of this Gospel account asks the Twelve a question and he directs that same question to us this morning. ‘What about you, do you want to go away too’? St Peter’s reply for me is one of the most grounding pieces of scripture. ‘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. What an act of faith by this very human of saints. Even he went on to deny Christ after such an affirmation but went on to be one of Christ’s and his Church’s greatest defenders.
Speaking of the Church as a place of darkness and light, of sinners and saints and whether to stay or go away reminds me of the song from ‘A Noble Work’ called ‘A Place For Me.’ The lyric goes ‘Jesus ate with sinners, seems there’s a place for me.
Prayerful support and blessings on your day.