To Whom Shall We Go ? JOHN 6:60–69
In this Sunday’s gospel we see that many of the followers of Jesus could not accept what he was teaching and considered it intolerable language.He, however continued with his doctrine even though he knew who would betray him. Many of his disciples left him but there were those who remained because they agreed with Simon Peter who said: “You have the message of eternal life, and we believe”.Upon reflection we can become aware of similar experiences in our life.
In 1980 Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador was assassinated while celebrating Mass. Like Jesus, he was considered in that country the voice of the poor and voiceless. He spoke out strongly against social injustice and the cruelty of the security forces against the marginalised campesinos.
He had a large following among the population but also there were those, especially in the military, who could not accept his teachings, and found it intolerable language.
Archbishop Romero knew his life was in danger, but this did not stop him from continuing to tend to his flock. He knew that the words he was speaking to his flock were spirit and they were life.
Soon after Pope Francis had published his encyclical Laudato Si’there were those who attacked him. One of the objectors stated that the pope “stands against modernity, rationality, science and, ultimately, the spontaneous creativity of open societies in which people and their desires are not problems but precious resources”.
Such people think that the language of the pontiff is intolerable and they refuse to follow him. Yet there are many who accept the encyclical and hail it as something that is beneficial to creation and the life of the world. It gives them spirit and life and they follow the pope.
I think too of those parents who take their responsibilities seriously and try to bring up their children to be respectful, honest and true, and though there are those of their offspring who follow what they say, there are at times some of their children who find their language intolerable and end up corrupt, or grow afoul of the law. The parents try their best for they know that the words they speak are spirit and life.
There are many teachers and faithful friends, too, who have similar experiences. They try their best to impart teachings and advice they know will make those around them successful spiritually and temporally and though there are many who follow what they say and benefit greatly, we always find a number who are in total disagreement and follow another path that leads to their destruction. Those who accept the teaching obtain life and spirit, whereas others find their language intolerable, do not accept it, and eventually lose their way.
Among those who accept the teachings of their parents, teachers and friends are also those who realise that even though they have some doubts, there is no viable alternative to follow, and they say to themselves, ‘To whom shall we go?’.
They realise that their parents, teachers and friends are speaking words of wisdom, and like the followers of Jesus, they conclude:“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.”
Lord, we thank you for the parents, teachers, friends, priests, nuns and religious leaders who give us words of spirit and life. They teach us that, it is the spirit that gives life, ‘the flesh has nothing to offer.’ Though at times we have doubts and questions, we continue to follow their teachings for we realise that they have the message of eternal life, and we believe.
Forgive us for the times that we have doubts and sway from the teachings that will give us spirit and life. We are led astray by the false values and what the flesh has to offer, unaware that the flesh has nothing to offer. We follow others who have a different message that does not lead to eternal life.
Lord, we pray that you will send in our communities, churches, schools, and nation those who will bring us teachings of spirit and life. Help us to accept those teachings and be aware that they have the message of eternal life.
The Gospel Meditations for August were by Felix Edinborough, a retired secondary school teacher and a member of the Lectio Divina group ‘Homecomers’.