My Homily for the Weekend!
What I’ve come to learn about my journey with the Lord is that sometimes it takes detours and goes ways you don’t expect, but trust in God he will get me through a better man and God willing a better and holier priest. When I was in my third year at Notre Dame Seminary, I was having a more stressful year than usual. I had just come back from what is called Clinical Pastoral Education; I was a chaplain in a Hospital for two months. It was a blessed experience for me, but I needed to address something that was on my heart and was bothering me. Working with my spiritual director and through my prayer, I decided that while I was sure God was calling me to the priesthood, taking more time before ordination would be beneficial for me. I decided to delay my ordination, and instead of being ordained at the end of the academic year I would wait another year before ordination. It was a difficult time for me when I made that decision. However, I heard God say to me is be patient and come to me in prayer, I will get you through this and make you a better man.
In today’s Gospel, many of Jesus’s disciples leave and go back to their former way of life. Jesus gives them a hard saying; he tells them unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have no life within you. Many of the people who began to be with the lord and listen to him had their faith tested and shaken. Jesus was taking his teaching to the next level; he introduced his disciples to a more critical truth in his teaching. For some, it was too much, and they left. His closest disciples, the twelve apostles were still there when all of those people stopped following him. Jesus rather than trying to comfort them, make them feel ok he put them on the spot. He asks them, “Do you also want to leave?” We don’t know what was going on in their heads, I wonder if some of them were considering leaving, but Peter spoke up on their behalf. He responds to Jesus question with one of the most beautiful phrases in the scriptures. “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.”
Today’s Gospel is an excellent opportunity for us to ask ourselves when we meet hard moments, hard teachings, or the heaviness of our crosses in life, where do we turn? These disciples faced a dilemma; they didn’t understand the words Jesus just spoke. In their doubt, they could either respond like Peter out of trust or go back to what is comfortable and what many of them left behind.
As a Church, we have recently been facing some hard moments. We may feel like some of those disciples who wanted to go back to their old way of life. However, St. Peter’s words challenge us that when we face difficult moments in our life when we may have doubts about our faith or facing sufferings and struggles that our initial response should be to turn to Jesus and draw closer to him.
For me facing the reality that I wasn’t going to be ordained when I first thought was a hard moment. Throughout that time I drew close to Jesus in the Eucharist. I became more disciplined about my daily prayer in front of Jesus in the Eucharist. I asked God, “Help me get through this time” before I received him in the Eucharist. As I look back on that time, I can say to myself God provided for me and made me a better man through that experience.
God invites all of us to ponder the response Peter gave to Jesus when all those people left. “To whom else shall we go, you have the words of eternal life.” Spend some time in prayer this week and pray with this scripture passage. If Jesus asked us “do you also want to leave?” how would we respond?
Jesus is calling us to draw close to him in the Eucharist. We have the blessed opportunity to receive his flesh and blood every day. At every Mass, throughout the world, we are living out Jesus’ command to eat his flesh and eat his blood. We receive life when we receive the Eucharist. We will all face moments in our lives that may shake our faith. In the Gospel today Jesus calls us to come to him alone and receive him into our hearts. I hope we can all run to Jesus in the Eucharist no matter what happens in our lives because he will sustain us and give us life.