It is often true that when people begin to wake up to God’s presence in their lives all is “sweetness and light” – as is also the case in human relationships. As we proceed along this path, however, there are times when it seems to be more than we bargained for and feels too difficult to continue. God may be asking too much of us or we feel less able than we thought we were to meet the relational demands. This is the case in this morning’s gospel (JN 6:60-69) after the “Bread of Life” discourse, one of what scholars call the “hard sayings” of Jesus. Many people returned to their former way of life after that, no longer following Jesus.
The end of this section of the gospel always speaks to me on an emotional level as well as intellectually. Jesus asks his twelve closest followers, “Do you also want to leave?” Jesus, being fully human, must have been feeling defeated by the loss of those who had misunderstood him or comprehended that they were being called to more than they thought. He was being true to his mission and needed to be honest about the cost of discipleship. The answer of the Twelve always urges me to answer similarly. They reassure him by saying, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”