To whom shall we go?

 This week we come to the end of the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel. Five weeks of miraculous happenings and challenging messages – barley bread is multiplied on the Passover and feeds a multitude; Jesus walks on the water and the Bread of Life discourse is proclaimed.  We may have heard in these the echoes of the Moses story of the first Passover, crossing the Red Sea and manna in the desert from Exodus.   Both stories contain the challenge to believe in a God who saves.  There are no promises that this will be easy – the teachings are tough and acceptance must be embodied in daily life – how obstacles are approached: with prayer or grumbling?; how gifts are received:with gratitude or entitlement ?, and how we share the experience of how God has worked. Patrick Barry says in his translation of Benedict’s Rule, chapter 7,  “The second step of humility is not to love having our own way nor delight in our own desires. Instead we should take as our model for imitation the Lord himself when he says: I have come not to indulge my own desires but to do the will of him who sent me.” (Jn 6.38)

With the call to be imitators of Christ, there is always the temptation to return to the old ways that are known and therefore appear safer.  ”The Israelites at the time of Moses voiced their desire to return to slavery in Egypt rather than continue the joureny and rely on God in the desert.  When Jesus teaches that he is the “Bread of Life’, we hear: “As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. (Jn 6.66) Jesus asks his disciples at the end of chapter 6, “Do you also want to leave?”

I can understand the Israelites because I have had moments when I wanted to return to the ‘known’ rather than step out in faith. Even when this return enslaved  me in old or static images of God or Church, or led me to the hopeless state of relying solely on myself.  I can imagine Jesus asking me “Do you also want to leave?” when I come up against a tough faith teaching.  The same temptation to walk away from God is there today as it was in the times of Moses and Jesus.  But I find myself able to say with the apostles, “to whom shall I go?  you have the words of eternal life.”

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Reference to Patrick Barry’s Rule comes from “Wisdom from the Monastery: The Rule of St Benedict for everyday Life,” Canterbury Press. 2005.

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About WalkingwithBenedict

I love how scripture comes alive with messages for our lives today. In praying with scripture, we are called into deeper relationship with God and others. We are called to the growth in love, hospitality, peace, humility, stewardship and hope. St Benedict's Rule provides a lens for how scripture can be lived in our lives today whether we live inside or outside a monastery.
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2 Responses to To whom shall we go?

  1. Leonore Misner says:

    I have always held the Israelites in contempt, because of their lack of faith so often when times got tough. . . until I think about my own life. Even though I love and worship the one true God, I often let false gods into my thinking. My lack of self control is really like the early Israelites, who began to worship the calf. I have false gods too, even though I dont’ want to. “Please Lord, bring me into communion with you in all walks of my life, and especially during my centering prayer time. Come, Lord Jesus, Come.

    Like

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