Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?
Will you go where you don’t know and never be the same?
Will you let my love be shown? Will you let my name be known,
will you let my life be grown in you and you in me?
Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go?
You have the words of eternal life.
We have come to believe
and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”
Lord your summons echoes true when you but call my name.
Let me turn and follow you and never be the same.
In Your company I’ll go where Your love and footsteps show.
Thus I’ll move and live and grow in you and you in me.
We are at the end of John 6 and the followers of Jesus are leaving right and left. What Jesus shared with them was just too much for them to swallow. “This is a hard saying, who can accept it…” Many returned to their old way of living…enough of this Jesus of Nazareth. But what about Jesus’ 12? Will they reject Jesus’ difficult teaching? I love Peter’s response. “To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (He didn’t find it difficult to continue to follow…at least right now….let’s check in with Peter later in the story…) Peter got it. Yeah, what you said takes some additional thought and understanding, but you have the words of eternal life. You are eternal life.
No one ever said following Jesus would be easy. When contemplating on this Gospel, I immediately thought of the hymn “The Summons.” I quote two verses above. Jesus calls us to a new way of living, loving and understanding. It’s not the way this crazy world or culture we live in lives, loves and understands. It seems that strife and division, sexual abuse and lies, deception and fake news are the norm these days. We are bombarded by challenges to our faith everyday. Over all the noise in our daily living, do we continue to hear God’s call to believe and follow. Do we really remember Jesus’ words of comfort, “I am with you always even to the end of the age.” When life is crumbling down around us because of our own doing or because of someone else’s hurtfulness, do we reach out to God, knowing God is reaching out to us to guide us through those valleys of the shadow of death?
I think we all have our challenges in following Jesus. Who doesn’t, we are not perfect. We are on a journey. There will be twists and turns, huge mountains to climb and valleys to trudge through, lonely times as well as exquisite, beautiful, amazing moments in life when we humbly say thank-you God for your love–thank-you for your son Jesus.
In the midst of everything life brings, let us always say with Peter, “To whom shall we go, you have the words of eternal life.” This weekend at Mass and every time we come before God, let us trust who is calling us to follow. Let us see Jesus in each other. Let us know without a doubt that Jesus is present and loving us unconditionally even when it feels like no one loves or cares.
Let us approach God with faithful hearts, sincere loving hearts, partaking of Jesus’ body and blood, knowing we have eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. Let us go out strengthened to glorify God with our lives today and always.