“Then many of his disciples who were listening said, ‘This saying is hard; who can accept it?’ Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, ‘Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?’” (Jn 6:60-62).
26 August 2021. 21st Sunday in OT. Cycle B-2021. Joshua 24:1-2a, 15-17, 18b + Ephesians 5:21-32 + John 6:60-69.
In his book, “What’s Wrong with the World?” the great English thinker and writer, G. K. Chesterton listed Christianity as an ideal that was hard to accept. He said, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult, and left untried.
“The world did not tire of the Church’s ideal, but of its reality. Monasteries were impugned not for the chastity of monks, but for the unchastity of monks; Christianity was unpopular not because of the humility, but of the arrogance of Christians. If the Church failed it was largely through the churchmen,” he explained. “But at the same time,” he added, “hostile elements had certainly begun to end it long before it could have done its work.”
Many of Jesus’ teachings–prescriptions for disciples to follow, and proscriptions for them to avoid–are, indeed, hard to accept.
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” (Matthew 16:24-25).
“As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil” (Matthew 5:38-39). You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you… For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not [unbelievers] do the same?” (Matthew 5:38-39, 43-44).
Christianity, in a sense, is a paradox–unwise, at first thought; but wise, on second thought.
“Everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away… If your right hand causes you to sin, cut if off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go to [hell]” (Matthew 5:28-30).
“I am the Living Bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”
Lest anybody think Jesus meant His words to be allegorical, Jesus emphatically repeated it three more times after those who heard it cringed in disbelief. “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you… For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink” (John 6:51-56).
“Be perfect just as your Father is perfect” (cf. Matthew 5:48).
What if the whole world accepted and lived the Christian Paradox? Would the world reap the evasive peace on earth? Even the faithful fall short of living the Christian ideal, but with the Church supporting them, they can rise up each time they fall.
Christianity, though a bitter butter, is better for the world. VSS
Picture credit: Top–The Way of the Cross, by MD Christian Images through patheos.com. Middle–Jesus Choice, by pinterest.com. Bottom–The Body and Blood of Christ, by blogspot.com.