That is what today’s Gospel says happened to some of Jesus’ disciples...what words could be so powerful? How disappointed they must have been...thinking they had found the Messiah, having personally witnessed Jesus’ astounding power, having been mesmerized by his words and vision of the Reign of God...until he told them they had to eat his flesh and drink his blood...it was just too much!
When I reflect on this Gospel reading I can’t help but think of all the times and ways in which “I have just walked away”...when I felt that it was all just too much! I have a sense that I am not alone in my walking away...but the wonder of it is that when I felt that way it seems that Jesus always calls me back! He’s not willing to let me be and just walk away. And curiously enough, given the context of this Gospel, it is usually Eucharist that calls me back! And it’s not just me, I hear it over and over again from people who have tried to walk away...but just couldn’t break loose from the “pull” of the Eucharist.
While we are free to walk away...God never just lets us go...God continues to follow after us...hunting us down like the “The Hound of Heaven”. I think it is also interesting to note that this total gift of self, by Jesus in the Eucharist, was precisely what caused some disciples to walk away...they left at Jesus’ total gift of himself to them! It was just too much for them to be able to comprehend and to accept... that we are so loved by God that God’s very self is made food for us. And it is that same God who searches us out when we walk away...bringing us back home.
And today in the midst of all the pain for all those children and adults who were abused by priests and religious and the bishops’ role in it all, the re-revelation, with more details than we can stomach to hear, it is the very presence of Jesus Christ who is here with us right this moment, weeping with us for those “little one”, the very same ones he drew to himself and warned against the disciples of maltreating and instead that they needed to become childlike in their humility if they wanted to enter into the Reign of God. Write to our bishop, to the president of the USCCB and write to the Pope -- make our voices heard. We need more than words of sorrow and contrition, as sincere as they are, we must write calling for meaningful and transformational change in how seminaries are run, how priests and religious are prepared for ministry. We need serious change in reporting structures and the laity, women in particular, must be intricately and meaningfully involved in the process of change and fully involved, with full voice in the new structures!