Believe or Leave

Like a barrister, St. John sets Jesus’ case before us. He sets it out in measured bite sizes so that we can digest one fact before moving onto the next. We see Jesus healing people and curing the sick. We see him present us with a sign of his divinity in the feeding of the five thousand. We see Jesus teaching people about the more enduring bread sent to nourish us spiritually, and finally we learn that Jesus himself is that living bread come down from heaven to give us everlasting life. The case is complete, but the audience have a sticking point. There were those amongst Jesus’ disciples who could not accept that Jesus had come down from heaven, and they turned their backs and left. What was Jesus to do? Should he call them back and make the truth easier for them to understand? Should he work another miracle to convince them that little bit more? No! Jesus turns to those who are left and gives them a choice, they have heard what he has said about eating and drinking his flesh and blood, and now they have a choice. So, are they going to remain his followers or are they too going to turn their backs. The same choice is levelled at us today. We can believe or we can leave?

Difficult choices always have something in common; there is always some kind of sticking point. To make a difficult choice we often need a missing piece of information, or a new perspective. Peter gives us that perspective. “Master,” he says, “to whom shall we go. You have the words of eternal life.” To Peter, the choice was easy. To Peter there was really no choice to be made. Who else was there to follow but Jesus?

We make the same choice as Peter every week in Mass when we celebrate the Eucharist. In celebrating the Eucharist we make a choice to follow where Jesus may lead.