Homily – February 24, 2019

In John’s gospel Jesus refers to himself as the bread of life and tells the people that unless they eat his flesh and drink his blood they have no life in them. We’re told that some of his followers told him, ‘this is a hard saying and who can take it and many of them walked with him no more.’ Jesus challenged Peter, ‘are you leaving too?’ Peter answered, ’Lord to whom shall we go, you have the words of everlasting life.’

Today’s gospel is filled with ‘hard sayings’. Love your enemies, pray for those who abuse you, lie about you, steal from you, and take advantage of you. These are hard sayings, they ask too much of us. We tend to hold on to grudges and resentments for past hurts. Don’t get angry, get even.

Do to others as you would have them do to you. We liken that to be a one way street, heading our way. Love your enemies, do well and lend expecting nothing in return. Don’t judge, don’t gossip and don’t condemn other people’s actions. Hard sayings all.

There is a meeting going on in Rome with bishops meeting with Pope Francis. They are trying to cope with the scandal of child abuse by priests and bishops and even a cardinal that has been going on for years. Today’s gospel asks the victims of sexual abuse, victims who have been robbed of their innocence and their lives robbed of peace to forgive those who harmed them. This is a hard saying. We can sympathize with a spouse struggling to cope with a deep sense of betrayal at the infidelity of a partner but challenged to forgive. There can be many circumstances in our lives where we are challenged by these hard sayings of Jesus.

In our first reading we have the powerful example of David who would not harm the Lord’s anointed even though he had every reason to kill the sleeping Saul who, if given the chance would gladly killed David.

The gospel saying are hard sayings and who can take them, following them, live them? Many of them walked with him no more. Are we willing to take to heart these hard sayings of Jesus? They go against the grain. But they are the way to peace in our own hearts and peace with others. If we are among those who walk with Jesus we are realistic enough to know that there are times when we do our best to follow these hard sayings and there are times when we will fail, but the point is that we always try to do unto others as we as we would have them do unto us.

This point of these hard saying of Jesus is that our behavior toward others is to be the reflection of the treatment we’ve received from God who offers us love and forgiveness and healing and we try in our own limited ways to do unto other what God has done unto us. After all to whom shall we go, Jesus has the words of everlasting life.