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IF YOU LEAVE OUT CHRIST ...

Father Francis's picture
Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time

Jn. 6:60-69

A group of people came to a fork in the road in today's Gospel reading - and headed in different directions. That fork in the road was Christ and only some of them decided to go with Him.

Christ is that kind of figure. His very presence in the world demands a decision. We must go through life either with Him or without Him. If a person decides to live without Christ, will that decision make any difference in the success or failure of their life? My answer would be 'Yes!'

Our reading says, "Many of His disciples broke away and would not remain in His company any longer." What happened to them? We don't know. They may have had long, happy and successful lives. But I am certain their living would have been much richer if they had remained true to the Lord. This is because anyone who is considering leaving Jesus should answer three questions ...

Firstly, where will you go for your ideas of truth? I think this is what Simon Peter had in mind when he said, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." That simply means Jesus had conveyed to His Apostles truths that they could not easily forget. His involvement in their lives had to do with the deeper meaning of life itself. From Jesus they had learnt some things that were so inescapably real and right that there was no way to cast them aside.

Whether we realise it or not, the same is true for us. Christ, for most of us, is more than just a word. He is the meaning of life itself. Whenever we think of truth, we think of Him. Our minds inevitably turn to something He said or something He did. It would probably be more difficult to put Him aside and go on without Him than any of us has ever imagined!

How would we be able to decide what is important in life without the truths of the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount or the parables of the Good Samaritan and the servant who buried his talents? None of us lives up to the Good Lord's aspirations for us but we know what they are … we have a measuring rod for our standards of truth and righteousness. Before we put Jesus aside, we had better decide who or what we would put in His place.

The second question is this: if you leave Christ what will be done with the very real problem of your sins? How aware we are of the moral failures in our lives! At times we try to ignore them or joke to make them seem less serious. Some modern philosophers try to explain away this knowledge and guilt as a religious hangover.

But each of us knows the truth that we are sinners. In the darkest hours of the night we still have to live with the truth that we have hurt, or cheated, or abused another human being. If we can live with that truth and not care, we are in serious moral trouble. As long as we are bothered by it there is hope that we will seek forgiveness – but that, of course, requires us to accept Jesus into our lives. And if we have rejected Him what is to be done bout our sins?

The third question is even more profound. If we have chosen life without Christ how can we face death and His Judgement on the life you and I have lived? We shall all have to face death and its eternal consequences. As for me, I have a lust for life and make no apologies for the fact that I want to live and love forever. I am not finished with living - I have more unfinished business now than 20 years ago! And it will take an eternity for me to do all I want to do in the service of God and become all I would like to be.

That's the reason I need Christ's words of eternal life. He tells me that with Him I can live and love forever. Armed with that promise, I can face not only my death but the death of friends and loved ones as well.

Lord Jesus, You asked Your friends a searching question, "Do you want to leave Me, too?". When Peter replied, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life" he spoke not only for the Apostles but also for me – and I hope for you too.

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