Sunday, April 21, 2013

Don't you see it? Reflections on Jn 6:60-69

I was standing there in the mall, staring intently at a piece of cardboard about a foot and a half from top to bottom, and maybe three feet wide. There were blobs of very nice colors in some of my favorite hues…but there was no pattern that I could find.

This guy comes up and asks me excitedly “Do you see it? I obviously didn’t, so I ask innocently “See what?” He blurts out “It’s the United Nations building in New York!!”

For a minute or so I look back at the cardboard, and then at my new friend…a few times…really trying hard. I finally have to ask “Where?” By now he’s so excited he’s really talking fast…and he’s pointing…and he’s outlining…and he’s telling me about the flagpoles and the shrubbery. What he was telling me was hard…and I just couldn’t accept it.

He finally tells me “you have to look beyond it…focus behind it.” Now, I came through the sixties, so I was kind of used to situations like this…so I believed him, and after a few minutes trying to figure out how to do what he told me to do…it clicked…and there it was…complete with flagpoles and shrubbery…the UN building in New York City.

I believed what he said, and after I was able to see, I was convinced that he was telling me the truth.

Today’s Gospel reading takes place just after Jesus tells the disciples that “…unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.” He tells them “It is the Spirit that gives life…the words I have spoken to you are Spirit and Life.” And they struggled with it…and some of them went away; we struggle with it today, and some of us have gone away.

Faith is a gift from the Father that allows us to see; it allows us to focus beyond mere logical reality… beyond mere flesh that is of no avail. Faith infuses the Spirit into our ability to understand. It allows us to accept what is hard. Faith opens our hearts to the Spirit, and allows our reason to be convinced.

Jesus’ words are Spirit and life…they infuse us with the gift of belief, and they bring us to life. Peter is the one who says it the best…”We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

If only the rest of us…disciples both then and now…will open our hearts and our heads at the same time so we can see; so that we can believe and understand the Truth…even when it’s hard. W.W.