The Gospel today (Jn. 6: 60-69) speaks about what happened after the Bread of Life discourse. The disciples of Jesus were murmuring and said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” but the Lord was firm in His message despite the fact that “many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.” The teaching on the Holy Eucharist was “the deepest and most beautiful teaching Jesus had given them”, but for some it was too much and they couldn’t accept it anymore so many abandoned Him.
This situation normally happens when times turn out bad. For example, when people feel that their “friends” are in dire straits, they quickly leave as they regard their so-called friends as no longer useful to them. It is a connection made by convenience and betrays the trust that others gave. Sometimes these actions turn out negative for them in the long run as the situation eventually become better for their former “friends”.
During this pandemic, many may have been changed by the challenges they face. They may have lost faith and hope in God and were reckless just to survive. Actually, this is a situation when our faith is tested hard. It is not the time to give up on God, rather; it is the time to recognize Him walking beside us in our journey. It is the time to respond in a grateful and beautiful way to Jesus who is always with us, despite our fickle-mindedness. Many have responded well in this pandemic: we read and see brave souls put up community pantries to share what they have with neighbors and others. They see these times as opportunities to show their true and authentic faith in the Lord. They allowed themselves to be God’s hands in sharing and giving food and necessities to others in need.
Last night while watching Itaehon Class on Netflix, one of the characters said to the effect, “I’d prefer a father over hunger”. This was in response to the other character in the series, a father, who contemplated of committing suicide, due to his difficulties in providing food for his young son. That was a thoughtful reaction to the situation, and tells us that there is more to life than food. Similarly, the times are for us to respond and prove to God our deep love and faith in Him. Like Toni (the character in Itaehon Class), our action spell our trust in Christ, and tell Him that we “choose God” over the challenges we are facing.
In the First Reading (Jos. 24: 1-2a, 15-17, 18b) Joshua gathered and addressed all the people:
“If it does not please you to serve the LORD,
decide today whom you will serve,
the gods your fathers served beyond the River
or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are now dwelling.
As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
The good leader that he was, Joshua was able to get a positive response from them,
“…Therefore we also will serve the LORD, for he is our God.”
The Lord didn’t force His disciples to follow Him, instead, Jesus gave them the choice whether to accept or reject Him. But Peter responded in a faithful and profound way,
“Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”
The other Apostles responded like Peter. They believed that God is the best option. Peter showed us that in life, there is no better option than to follow Christ, no matter what. Nothing in life is worth more than Jesus Christ. If it hasn’t happened now, our faith should lead us to that realization very soon.
Today, let us reflect on Jesus asking us this, “Do you also want to leave?”
Let us pray that the Holy Spirit grant us the faith and the wisdom to choose God above all else.
“Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.” (Ps. 34: 9a)