Lord, to whom can we go?

The 13th Sunday after Pentecost
Year B - Proper 16
John 6:56-69

At the end of some controversial teachings the crowds around Jesus suddenly began to thin out - to the point that he approached his own twelve disciples and asked them whether they, too, were thinking of withdrawing from him.  Their words to him were these:

“Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

We all have differing degrees of attachment to people and organizations.  

Some of us are die-hard members of a political party, or keep in contact with school chums across decades and continents.  Others find such attachments hard to understand.  Their voting patterns change with some regularity and they could see no reason whatsoever to attend their 20 year reunion of their graduating class.  

There are, however, core attachments which we feel the need, in most cases, to maintain tenaciously.  In the raising of our children or in the bond which develops with our spouse we understand, hopefully, that the path will both rise and fall and that something will eventually be required of us "in spite" of how we might feel at a particular moment.  The prize is "beyond" and will only be appropriated by struggling through the difficult bits.

In the absence of such tenacity, children are left without the wisdom and protection of long-suffering parents.  They will need flexibility and understanding.  They will need to safety of knowing that while they might stray there will be people there willing either to welcome them back or to adapt alongside them.  In the absence of strong bonds there can be little real communication within a marriage or even personal individual growth for a husband and wife.  The strong decision to be together affords freedom to married people - freedom in which they can be themselves without fear of immediate rejection.

As members of the Universal Church we have, nonetheless, a particular relationship with the local body of our congregation.  The measure, even of a mixed congregation like ours is that, while we were together, we developed that ability to see through our differences, to work together with people unlike ourselves towards a common goal, to speak honestly about the things which divide or offend us rather than merely withdrawing.  

We are his body.  As such we owe to each other a debt of togetherness, forgiveness and tenacity.

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