“Do you also wish to go away?”
I can hear the sad questioning in Jesus’ query to his followers. Jesus knew his way was hard, going against the grain of the known world. Many could not accept his teaching about finding new life through the experience of death. The way to true life is not through earthly power or treasure, but through sharing the bread of life with our neighbors.
Jesus’ predecessor Joshua posed a similar challenge some 1200 years before Jesus (Joshua’s namesake): “Choose this day whom you will serve: other gods or the Lord Yahweh.” Even after 40 years in the wilderness sustained by Yahweh, the Hebrew people still revered the tribal gods in the land. But they would have to make a choice.
Choose this day whom you will serve. By choosing Christ, by becoming part of Christ’s body the Church, we have taken the road less traveled, the harder road of justice and truth when the world lives largely by lies and exploitation. It’s natural to become weary, but it helps us to gather and be fed, again and again, with the bread of life and the cup of salvation. We are not alone; we walk together with God.
Choose this day, and every day, whom you will serve. As disciples, we always have a choice. Jesus does not coerce. Other gods will call out to us; the way of self-interest can be enticing. But there is no true life there; it is a chimera, an empty promise. We have seen glimpses of the true God; we have recognized God in the man Jesus. Jesus finally asked his own disciples, “Do you also wish to go away?” With Peter, we respond, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life.” JBM