28 April 2012

Will you stay or walk away?

3rd Week of Easter (S) 
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Dominic Church, NOLA 

Had I been a disciple of Christ 2,000 years ago and had he been foolish enough to ask me for advice on how to arrange for the salvation of his Father's human creatures and had he been doubly foolish and followed my advice, our means of salvation would be very, very different today. Let's just say that there would be no crosses, no nails, no suffering; far fewer demands for sacrifice and obedience; and our Masses would involve pecan pie, ice cream, and the swapping of funny stories about our (grand)kids. My point here is not to be irreverent. The Way we've been given by Christ is narrow but straight, difficult but doable. However, if given the chance to avoid the difficult stretches of the Way, or radically alter the course entirely and still make it to heaven, most of us would jump at that chance! Unfortunately, there's just the One Way to the heavenly feast and all the wishing in the universe cannot change this hard fact. Jesus says to the quarreling Jews, “. . .my Flesh is true food, and my Blood is true drink. . .whoever eats this bread [and drinks this blood] will live forever. . .Does this shock you?” 

Evidently, it shocked some of those who heard him, “As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer walked with him.” The disciples who walked away from this hard teaching probably did so b/c they did not understand what Jesus was teaching. How can we eat his flesh and drink his blood? That's cannibalism! Maybe some walked away b/c they understood that eating his flesh and drinking his blood meant sacrificing their lives to live in the radical love of God and others and this they could not do. Whatever their reasons for walking away, they were shocked and choose not to follow the Christ. Jesus' teaching on the means of our salvation is no less shocking for some today but for very different reasons. Those in the Church who are shocked/offended by Christ's teaching today find fault with what they see as his blindness to the diversity of human religious experience. They are disgusted with what appears to be a narrow intolerance of the different means of reaching for and grasping the Divine. They would ask Jesus, “Isn't it more loving to be open to and accepting of the variety of ways that people experience God and choose to worship? Why must you so exclusive, so disrespectful to different ways that people express their personal encounter with the Divine? Surely, we don't need to exclude those who take a different view of how we can achieve holiness?” 

Jesus answers, “The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe. . .For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.” As much as we might like for the way to heaven to be paved with pecan pies, pick and choose beliefs, “free lifestyle choices,” and mix and match gods and goddesses, the hard truth is that Christ has given us A Way, The Way to eternal life and that Way begins and ends by following him. After some of his students walk away, Jesus turns to the Twelve and asks, “Do you also want to leave?” Peter the Rock answers for them, “You have the words of eternal life. . .We have come to believe . . .that you are the Holy One of God.” We are under no obligation to remain on the Way of Christ. But if we remain, there is just one path to follow, the holy means to our holiest end. If this truth is shocking, any of us can walk away and return to our former lives. However, if we choose to stay, we follow the Spirit who gives us the Word of Life! 

Follow HancAquam and visit the Kindle Wish List and the Books & Things Wish List

Click on St. Martin and donate to the Dominicans!  ----->

No comments:

Post a Comment