People who heard Jesus’ startling invitation to eat his body and drink his blood were confused and shocked. Whoever heard of such a thing? His words smacked of cannibalism. We can’t blame them for saying,’ this is a hard saying and who can take it.’ Then we hear these words,’ and many of his disciples walked with him no more.’ Jesus knew this would happen. He knew from when choose his disciple those who would be faithful and those who would not. He knew some would stumble and fall and yet would get up and recommit themselves to him and he knew that one would betray him and die in despair.
As many of his disciples and listeners walked away wondering if Jesus had lost his mind he asks the twelve, ‘Do you also wish to go away’? Peter answers for all of them, ’Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to know that you are the holy one of God.’
I think Peter was saying Lord I don’t really know what you are talking about but I have faith in you and believe you have the words of everlasting life.
What is faith? An old definition said, ’faith is a gift of God by which we believe the things revealed by God to be true not because of any intrinsic evidence in the truth revealed but solely on the authority of God revealing.’ It is so cranial and it is based on authority. Watching ads on TV especially at News times we’re expected to see actors wearing white laboratory coats with stethoscopes around their necks as believable, they have authority and we’d best buy the product they’re pushing.
In the Middle Eastern world, in the time of Jesus and even today the words “faith”; “belief”; “fidelity”; and “faithfulness” describe the social glue that binds one person to another person. These are not acts of the mind so much as sentiments that spring from the heart which is the seat of thought in Middle Eastern psychology.
Peter’s words, Lord to whom shall we go tell of the glue that bound Peter and the others to Jesus. They didn’t understand Jesus but they trusted him. They knew he was someone special, the holy one of God. No one but one from God could say the things he said challenging them to a whole new vision of God, a God who calls them to a whole new understanding of God as Father and shepherd and lover. No one but one from God could do the things Jesus did as he cured the sick, made lepers whole and the blind to see. They were stuck with Jesus and he was stuck with them.
We may be uncomfortable with some Protestant God talk as Jesus being our personal Lord and Savior. We may find it to be too much touchy feely. But it speaks of that glue that sticks a believer to Jesus. That’s the kind of relationship we’re invited to have with Jesus. It’s the kind of glue St. Paul speaks of when he wrote, ‘I live now, not I, but Christ lives in me and the life I live, I live trusting in the Son of God who loved me and gave his life for me.’ Paul was stuck with Jesus as Jesus was stuck with Paul. They were inseparable.
‘Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you’. Every time we receive Holy Communion the glue that binds us to Jesus in strengthened so that nothing can separate us from the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus our Lord, made visible in the crucified Christ.
As we continue to celebrate this Mass we pray for ourselves and for each other that we all be stuck with Jesus as he is stuck with us.