Thursday, February 2, 2012

Ground Hog Day

When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”
After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the Twelve, was going to betray him. John 6:60-71

It's that time of year again, time to turn to the ground hog for weather predictions. Today PUNXSUTAWNEY PHIL, the most famous and reliable ground hog of them all decreed another six weeks of winter. Although the whole thing is rather overblown and silly, the tradition goes on and provides year round tourism interest in a small town in Pennsylvania known for little else. Thanks to the celebrity of the movie, people flock from all over to get a glimpse of the town and her most celebrated inhabitant. The ground hog's year round lodgings is a man made burrow attached to the public library. I am always amazed hoe faithful people can be to pretend characters, and made up traditions while they shun tradition and faith that can save their lives.

There is a good deal of grumbling around Jesus, first from the religious leaders and then from his followers themselves. What he forecasts scare them, and the power which he describes gives them pause. Many decide to wander off, fearing that they will be caught up in something they cannot support, or afraid to really commit. Either way, Jesus is getting very real and honest with them, and they liked the celebrity buzz, not the honest commitment to follow Jesus. Peter, who watches as others peel away, admits his faith and undying allegiance. We know that Peter is human and will deny Jesus, but in this moment his bald faith and honest confession establish our traditions, our ways of following the Savoir.

Today, in the midst of so many uncertainties, both personal and public, I ask God to help me be like Peter. May honesty and confession be our guides today and may God give us all the strength to be solid rocks in ever changing streams. We know that we are imbedded in the heart of the living God, the loving Creator and the one who seeks us out in the midst of all our trials. May our lives be strength for others who find themselves sinking deep this day. And may God shine through us to bring everybody home to the heart of God, this day.

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