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, hav- ing 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; that he was the “bread of life come down from heaven. 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 feel 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 can’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 suffering and pain, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions dying, millions more gravely ill and their families suffer- ing along with them, God is here with us right this moment, weeping with us for all those who are sick and those who are suffering. In the midst of the horrible suffering of the people of Haiti and the people of Afghanistan God is with them in the midst of their sorrow and suffering. And God touches our hearts to reach out to them in their misery, to help them, to speak out on their behalf as their voices are silenced or ignored!
As we are so fortunate to be able to gather around the table of the Lord, to be nourished by his very body, let us not “walk away” for we are filled by this divine presence within us, emboldened to go forth from here and fight for all those who suffer and are burdened, for that is our call as disciples of Jesus Christ! To do as Christ did!