DO YOU ALSO WANT TO LEAVE?
( Monday, May 8 )
This Monday, when New Calendar people celebrate St. John the Evangelist, the Gospel-reading is from the end of Chapter 6 of the Gospel according to John, where “many of His disciples,” being offended by the Lord’s words about eating His flesh and drinking His blood, “went back and walked with Him no more.” (Jn 6:66. The thrice-six of this specific verse is of course not coming from the Evangelist, who did not divide the text into chapters and verses, but it jumps out at me nonetheless.) Then Jesus asks the twelve, Do you also want to leave? And Peter responds, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Peter, speaking for all twelve disciples, (even though Judas was not quite *on board* with this proclamation, as it turned out), is saying that *we* have “come to believe and know” that You are the Christ, with the *words* of eternal life, – even while we do not understand all of them. How has Peter “come to believe and know” that? He has stuck around long enough, to experience the effects of the Lord’s life-bringing words. I mean, eternal-life-bringing words. Peter has not received a “better” life in material terms, by following Jesus of Nazareth around, on foot, for months on end and away from his usual fishing business. In fact, Peter will end up in prison and eventually crucified, for choosing to continue on this Way. But it is worth it, because there is life, and life abundantly, life everlasting, in following Christ.
Let me stick around as well and stay close to Him today, even when things get incomprehensible or difficult. “Lord, to whom shall we go?” let us say to Him this morning. “You have the words of eternal life.” And let us let ourselves “come to believe” as we engage in some heartfelt prayer this morning, because He never leaves us, even when we leave or neglect or deny Him, as did Peter on that one occasion. “And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen!” (Mt 28:20)