Lord Jesus Christ,
You call us to come
To be with you,
And to learn trust, faith.
By your Spirit help me
To see you,
To hear your voice in the midst of trouble.
Help me to follow you in all of life,
To walk in the joy and freedom of the resurrection,
Indwelt and led by your Pentecost Spirit.
Thirteenth Sunday of Pentecost: Week 16 Ordinary Time
The message Jesus gives in the synagogue in Capernaum does not get rave reviews, nor does it seem to be met with great acceptance–what we may think of as “success”. His followers are puzzled and disturbed by what they hear, and complain saying, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” Many of these early followers are not receptive to Jesus’ reminder that the Holy Spirit is the One who gives life, who helps us understand spiritual meanings. Rather than stay to learn more, they turn back and no longer desire to be with Jesus.
In response Jesus asks the twelve disciples, “Do you also wish to go away?” A risky question: they might say “Yes, we are also leaving. This is just too much for us.” But Simon Peter speaks up for all of them and replies, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”
This does not mean that Simon Peter or the rest of the twelve fully understand what Jesus is talking about. But this they do know: Jesus is the One, the Way. He is the One sent from God. Over time they realize that they have come to believe and know who Jesus is. He is the One who speaks the words of life, eternal life, life which gathers in the deep spiritual needs and hungers and offers food which satisfies the soul – and which changes how we see others, the world around us, and what are God’s generous ways among us.
And so they choose to stay, and not turn back.
As we rise from the pews and gradually leave the synagogue, we are also left with Jesus’ question: “Do you also wish go away?”
Maybe there are times when the new word which God brings to us is startling, baffles us, feels like too much of a challenge. Or the new invitation Jesus gives us is such that we say, “No,” and decide to stop listening. The rich young ruler, not matter how hard he desired to have eternal life, could not say “Yes” to giving up his riches and possessions in order to follow Jesus. We are more captive to multiple attachments than we realize. Even as we say “Yes” and follow Jesus, there are areas in which we are saying “No”, those places in our lives where we are still captive to the world and its allure.
It is the Holy Spirit who continues the patient, ongoing work within us, and who helps us get in touch with our lack of freedom. This “knowing” is born out of the Spirit’s work of helping us see and hear on a deep, inner spiritual level. This is the kind of “knowing” Simon Peter and most of the twelve are experiencing. It is a kind of knowing that we can receive, but cannot make happen on our own. We are dependent on God for this gracious presence and work of the Spirit of God within us—to do the work of freeing us from captivity so that we can more fully be with and follow Jesus in all of life.
Prayer before reading:
Lord Jesus Christ,
You come to us
In the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Help me to be aware of how you come,
To be hospitable to your help,
To your patient work of freeing me from all that holds me captive.
Lead me in the way of Jesus.
Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost: Week 16 in Ordinary Time
- 8/20 Monday: John 6:56-65
- 8/21 Tuesday: John 6:66-69
- 8/22 Wednesday: Psalm 84
- 8/23 Thursday: 1 Kings 8:22-30,41-43
- 8/24 Friday: Ephesians 6:10-20
- 8/25 Saturday: John 6:56-65
- 8/26 Sunday: John 6:66-69