Do You Also Want to Leave?
Twenty First Sunday of Ordinary Time - B

Frank Enderle
Reproduced with Permission

The most significant event in the salvation history of the human race is the Covenant that God made with His people. It is through this Covenant that each member of the People of God confirms his or her promise to be faithful to Him and to serve Him. At the same time, God also confirms His fidelity and His promise to protect His people, as long as they remain faithful.

It was Abraham who made this Covenant with God for the first time in the history of humanity. During the following generations, the People of God continued to renew the Covenant. The First Reading says that when the tribes of Israel reached the Promised Land, Joshua gathered them together and gave them the great news, telling them that their long pilgrimage had come to an end. He warned them that before entering and taking control of the Promised Land, they had to make a serious decision: to follow the pagan gods, as their ancestors did and as did those who inhabited the lands they were about to take over, or to follow the true God. He explained, firmly, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” All of the people responded together, “Far from us to abandon the Lord to serve foreign gods! We also will serve the Lord: he is our God!”

In the Gospel Reading, Saint John tells us about an important moment in the life of the apostles. Jesus had said to the Jews gathered together, “My flesh is true food and my blood is true drink” (John 6:55). These words not only surprised many but, moreover, scandalized them. They appeared to them to be hard to understand and incomprehensible. The faith that they had in Christ was not strong enough. And many of them decided to stop following Him. They could not believe what He was saying: that He was the Word of God Made Flesh. The apostles had followed the Master for a long time. And even though they did not comprehend many of the things that He said, they loved Him and knew Him better than many of those who left. Surely, the words that they had just heard confused them. But at that moment they had to make the most important decision of their lives: to follow Christ or abandon Him.

For Our Lord there is nothing hidden. In His own times and today, He knows our thoughts and everything that goes on in our hearts. That is why He knew that on that day many would criticize Him and abandon Him. They did not want to accept what Jesus taught. Then He noted that the apostles were worried and that they also had doubts about what He had just said. He wanted to make sure, listening to the apostles themselves, of what they thought. So He said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” Peter shows us, as He has on many occasions, His spontaneity. In spite of the doubts, the faith and love He felt for the Messiah made Him answer, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Surely, these words of Peter were a relief to the Lord. The apostles had known Him for a long time. And they knew that it was impossible for them to leave Him. They needed to be with Him and listen to the words that give life. They knew that without Him they would be lost and that their lives would not make sense.

There continue to be people in the world today who find that the teachings of Christ are hard. Many even them refuse even to believe in Jesus. It could be that, sometimes, we also have moments of doubt and of crisis in our faith. If we have moments of incertitude, we should ask ourselves, as Saint Peter did, “To whom can we go?” Christ is the only one who has words of eternal life and the only one who can save us.