My homily for 21st Sunday

Not everyone could believe in Jesus

“It’s the spirit that gives life, the flesh has nothing to offer”. Such statements confused some of Jesus followers. They understood all about “flesh” but they had little or no idea about “spirit”. They understood when Jesus gave them bread to eat; they were hungry and he filled their stomachs. And so they followed him, in the hope that they would never be hungry again.

Jesus knew this; he knew people won’t listen if their stomachs are empty. So he gave them bread to eat. However, when he started talking about spiritual food some perhaps many didn’t understand. “I’ll give you my body to eat”, he taught, “If you eat this bread you will live forever”. You can almost hear the people whispering: “what’s he talking about”? Or, as they say in ‘Eastenders’: “Whot’s e on about?”

It’s interesting to note that Jesus knew some wouldn’t understand him, when he said, “but there are some of you who do not believe”. Then he asks the twelve if they believe, “what about you do you want to go away too”? As always Peter is the first to speak. He doesn’t answer Jesus question with a “yes”, instead he answers with a question: “Lord, to whom shall we go”? Peter and the other disiples put their trust in him. They didn’t fully understand everything he was saying and for them too it was easier to understand Jesus when he talked about “flesh” rather than the “spirit”. They were fishermen for the most part, not monks, but men who earned their living by the sweat of their brow, whose main concern was to put food on the table for their families. That kind of food they understood only too well.

Peter doesn’t really understand the world of the spirit but he trusts in Jesus, indeed he loves Jesus. And so he and the other eleven don’t walk away; rather they walk behind him. Sometimes we too don’t understand the world of the spirit. When Jesus says, “it’s the spirit that gives life, the flesh has nothing to offer”; do we fully understand what he is saying?

We say don’t we, “God’s ways are not our ways”; in other words, we don’t always understand. Our faith in him can be tested at times but so be it. When someone we love dies, especially if they are not so old, that can test our faith in him. It’s as such times that we do reflect more about the spirit. Do not expect to understand everything, but put your trust in Him. Listen to Him. And you will not go wrong. After all, he has the message of eternal life, not just of this life.

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