Can You Accept It?

By Tom Bair

A Reading from the Gospel of John 6:60-71

60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” 61 But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But among you there are some who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who were the ones who did not believe and who was the one who would betray him. 65 And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.”

66 Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. 67 So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” 70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? Yet one of you is a devil.” 71 He was speaking of Judas son of Simon Iscariot, for he, though one of the twelve, was going to betray him.


There is a challenge implicit here. We are asked by Jesus if we are willing to accept the fullness of his truth; or will we walk away as well?

Does the Blessed Sacrament contain the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ? Is it any less a challenge to believe that he ascended corporeally to heaven? When confronted with the mystical we revert to the skeptical; to which Jesus said, “Be not afraid, only believe.”

We can be patient, praying and meditating on his holy words and trying in our feebleness to realize this fullness and to help others along. We do get glimpses of glory, but most of our time is spent, not in the Spirit, but in questioning mode and even, like some of these erstwhile disciples, turning away, uncomprehending, and seeking our own palatable explanations.

Can it really be that the flesh  is useless? Not worthless, but useless to give life in matters of the Spirit? St. Paul seems to agree in Romans 8:13: “for if you live by the flesh you shall die by the flesh.”

Peter’s answer is the answer of loving submission. It’s as if he is saying, I don’t know what else I can do. There is nowhere to go after having been in your presence.

Yes, real life and truth are found in the presence of the God-Man, Jesus.

Tom Bair serves as a lay leader in the Episcopal Church. He teaches stewardship and holds an Education for Ministry (EFM) practicum from the University of the South. He is married to the Rt. Rev. Gerry Wolf.

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