27 August 2006

Fidelity and Frustration

During this year of the Sunday Gospels from Mark, we continue our little excursion in the Gospel of John with today's poignant reading. It is easy to paint a picture of Jesus and the 12 apostles and omit some of the agonizing details that, no doubt, were part of Jesus' experience. In today's reading when Jesus is abandoned by many of his followers, we have a window into some of the suffering that Jesus experienced when followers decide to leave him.

There are many significant themes in today's Gospel; perhaps one we might consider is that Jesus' heart knew the pain of rejection and sadness. One could almost hear the frustration in his tone as he asked the twelve, "Do you also want to leave?" Surely we can all relate to the pain and frustration of being abandoned, of having someone we love "murmur" behind our back or choose not to associate with us any longer, etc. And perhaps it is worth noting that Jesus' response to rejection, to murmuring (or some translations of today's Gospel even have "complaining") and to ridicule is one of gentleness. Aware of the murmuring, Jesus began to explain that he offers "spirit and life" to all who have been called by the Father. How often is our response to murmuring one of gentleness? How often have we responded gently when we felt abandoned by someone whom we love? Easier said than done. This, however, is the challenge of being one of those who "stays" -- one of those who did murmur and complain about His teachings. The cost of remaining with the Lord is the exacting experience of allowing him to mold us - gently - into a disciple after his own Sacred Heart.

...be faithful to abide with Him and leave Him not,
except to see and do what He commands.
St. Jane de Chantal

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