When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But among you there are some who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.”
Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “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.” Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? Yet one of you is a devil.” He was speaking of Judas son of Simon Iscariot, for he, though one of the twelve, was going to betray him. John 6:60-71
I have spent the last few days in silent retreat with a wonderful group of clergy and one of their bishops. Although silent most times, we had time to share our stories and support one another on our journeys of faith. No one walk is like any other. It is both a wonderful blessings and a real challenge to serve God fully. For many, it can be too hard. I rejoice and hold dear the witness of these brave and faithful people. They are willing, despite the odds and challenges they face, to venture into the world sharing the love they have been given, living for others and for the sake of the Gospel.
Jesus gets real with those who are following him. Some must just be along for the ride, because their friends are "doing it", or because they have to do something. They had heard and seen first hand the words of life, had seen miracles and mysteries beyond their imagining, and yet they wanted safety, familiarity and to live in their comfortable places. Jesus wanted them to understand that a life of faith is a life of sacrificial love, love that does not bail when it gets too hard. We are invited, as we prepare our hearts for Lent, that there will be rough roads ahead, yet we never walk alone.
Today I thank God for the witness of these wonderful people, who shared their walks of faith with grace. May we be thankful for all of those who have shown us the way to be true disciples, who have put others first so God's love might shine through them.