Well I never!? Believe it or not, once again we find ourselves in the company of some Jews who are murmuring about certain realities and, in fact, taking offence. TODAY’S GOSPEL [JOHN 6: 60 – 69] tells us that Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at it, said to them, ‘Do you take offence at this’?

Besides the fact that far too many Christians take offence very easily, we should not miss that this time we find it is the disciples themselves that take offence and begin murmuring. If we read the relevant Gospel verse it is not difficult to discern that the murmuring among the disciples is the result of their taking offence.

They had taken offence simply because

“this is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” There have been many occasions when I have heard hard sayings about myself and circumstances surrounding my life and living. However, being prepared to listen to them, reflect on the truths and realities, have been enormously beneficial to my growth as a person, priest and disciple of the Lord.

There are other interesting factors which emerge from these Gospel verses. First of all we read that

“after this many of his disciples drew back, and no longer walked with him.” I am fascinated by the phrase drew back, and there discern the beginnings of all ‘fringe’ participation in discipleship and Church membership. A definite step forward and ‘into’ (not ‘backwards and out’) is always demanded. Too often the call is heard but a hard saying is wrongly perceived , offence is taken, and the call vanishes into thin air. It is not possible to follow Jesus without taking this step, and to think otherwise is to delude ourselves. Yet the fringe still see themselves as entitled to ‘benefits’ which are demanded on their own terms and at their convenience. It has been described as cheap grace.

Secondly

, we see something special as the Twelve stand firm: to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. These twelve were prepared to take the step forward and into. There should be no doubt that they did not understand any more than those who decided not to walk with him any longer. They must have been as puzzled and confused as anyone else. However, their focus was not so much on the words but on the person who proclaimed them. They accepted that he had said them and believed – – – precisely in what they were unsure but KNEW that, in time, it would become clear. They had heard the call but had not taken offence at what must have been a hard saying for them also. However, not having taken offence they had not begun to murmur. They were prepared to stay with him, learn more, grow and understand.

Thirdly

, the twelve had discerned the crux of the matter – “you are the Holy One of God.” If we recognise and believe this, it follows that we believe Jesus Christ IS OF GOD and so is his Good News in which from time to time we may, initially, come across what may be perceived as hard sayingsbut no offence must taken. In fact we need to learn that these hard sayings are part of Christ’s love through which he nourishes the Church. {see our NEW TESTAMENT READING – EPHESIANS 5: 21 – 32} In this reading we have the wonderful analogy between marriage and the Church of Christ. In some real way we are married to Christ and the Church, for better or for worse – until death …. and marriage will, from time tp time, include a few hard sayings!

“Choose this day whom you will serve.”

[OLD TESTAMENT READING, JOSHUA 24: 1 – 2a. 15 – 17. 18b]. Here is the clue. The Twelve made their CHOICE. The fringe made, and make, decisions. We have to choose each and every single day.

But we must always choose whom, the

PERSON, not the saying.