21st Sunday of Ordinary Time
23, 2015 4:00pm, 7:30 and 9:00am
Saint Margaret Parish,
“This saying is hard”
“This saying is hard; who can accept it?”
Jesus has just said – we heard it last Sunday – that “The bread I give is my flesh for the life of the world.” “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.”
So, today some of the people respond, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” This response got me thinking.
If we page through the gospels, we find that today’s is not the only “hard saying.” There are others.
Two Specific Hard Sayings
For example, right at the beginning of the gospels, an angel appears to Joseph.
The angel explains that “it is through the Holy Spirit that Mary is conceiving a child.” This is a hard saying.
It goes against all we know about how children are conceived and born. And yet, could it be so?
Would the almighty, transcendent God who is the origin of the universe and the creator of the amazing complexity of the human body be limited to what we know? Might the divine emerge in our humanity in a way that is beyond our imagination?
So, in the end, might we answer Jesus’ question, “Do you also want to leave?” in the same way Peter does today? “Master, to whom shall we go?”
And then, in another place, Jesus says, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
This is also a hard saying. Aren’t we supposed to find ourselves as persons and in that sense, find our lives?
And isn’t it a good thing to seek my fulfillment in life? And yet, how many persons who focus so exclusively on this end up feeling empty?
How many – and I have seen this in my ministry and on news reports – how many really successful and wealthy people still feel that something is missing? On the flip side of it, isn’t it true that so many of those who give of themselves for the well-being of others – like parents for your children or like so many of you who volunteer in some way – isn’t it true that so many of us find inner fulfillment and find our life?
So, once again, might we answer Jesus’ question, “Do you also want to leave?” in the same way Peter does today? “Master, to whom shall we go?”
Other Hard Sayings
There are other hard sayings.
Like forgiving “seven times seventy-seven times.” Or like “loving your enemies.”
Or like “being great by being the servant”. Or like “the first being the last and the last being the first.”
Or like “Keeping holy the Sabbath.” Or like God or Jesus being “life” itself and the author of life and, therefore, all human life, from conception in the womb right until physical dying, being sacred.
“Master, to whom shall we go?”
So, these are all “hard sayings.”
But, if we just stay with them quietly, thoughtfully, and prayerfully, we know that there is something here. There is something undeniable and magnetic here.
Jesus’ words call us to become who we were made to be by our Creator. They are the way to fullness, to the fullness of life.
And so, like Peter, we stay and accept the “hard sayings” when Jesus asks, “Do you also want to leave?” We say, “Master, to whom shall we go?
“We have thought about other ideas and ways. We have even tried some of them but they just don’t do it.
“Whether we understand fully or not, and whether we follow your way fully or not, we now believe that you have the words of eternal life. You are the Holy One of God.”