HOMILY & IDEAS

Jos 24:1-18; Eph 5:21-32; John 6:60-69.

Here are some stones I have overturned to see what ideas lay underneath. I hope you can grab hold of something, pull -- and discover that it has some homiletic roots for you.

Then many of his disciples who were listening said, This saying is hard; who can accept it? Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe. Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. And he said, For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father. As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, "Do you also want to leave? Simon Peter answered him, "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.

In the Gospel today there are two particular verses that may resonate with its listeners -- and they certainly preach. The first -- This is hard; who can accept it? The second -- To whom shall we go? The first line is spoken by the collective disciples and the second line is spoken by Simon Peter; however they both may have been spoken in our own lives -- perhaps on many occasions.

This is hard; who can accept it?

It might be said that the disciples who left Jesus to return to their former way of life were handed the final straw while listening to Jesus say the following:

Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.

With the development of 2000 years of Eucharistic Theology the above sounds palpable to its listeners today; however, if we attempt to place ourselves back in the time of Jesus we might feel the force of the last straw. Why is this the last straw? What did the previous straws look like? What if the above followed the accumulation of these:

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.

Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.

You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna.

If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into Gehenna.

It was also said, Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce. But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) causes her to commit adultery.

Whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well.

If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well.

You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.

Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.

Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life.

Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.

Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead.

Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.

Do not take gold or silver or copper for your belts; no sack for the journey, or a second tunic, or sandals, or walking stick. The laborer deserves his keep.

You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved.

Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword.

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

Therefore, I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.

Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.

Some of these sayings are literal, some of them are figurative; nevertheless, they are all challenging. They are all weighty; for they carry in them the keys to everlasting life. Chances are that some more than others may have given you a heavy feeling. Some of them certainly did that to me. It is this heavy feeling that caused some of the followers of Jesus to return to their former ways of life. This was all too hard for them. Sometimes they feel too hard for us. We feel as if we can not measure up to their requirements and we may begin to turn away.

On the other hand, a group of disciples in which Peter is numbered balances these challenging sayings with the memories of a man of power, of courage, of unparalleled teaching authority, of compassion, of love, of virtue, of conviction. They know of a man who has the words of eternal life and although they may feel the weight of His challenges, they know of no other place to go. Nowhere on earth is their such a leader.

They stay.

They stay because of their relationship with Jesus. They know him. They love him. They place their hope in Him. They believe in Him. Although they do not understand everything He says, they trust Him and all of these things have made all the difference in the world: relationship, faith, hope, love, trust.

If heavy feelings are elicited by the challenges of Jesus, perhaps it might indicate the need to pay some attention to our relationship with Jesus. Perhaps we have drifted away. We have lost touch. We have fallen out of fraternal love. We have placed out hope in other things. We have forgotten how to trust.

In the end it is about being in a relationship with Jesus. It makes all the difference in the world. It causes one to say -- To whom shall we go, Jesus? You have the words of eternal life.

Back to Main Page