Today’s Gospel presents us with the moment when those who followed Jesus had to decide whether to continue in faith with him on his journey or abandon him. This passage in John’s Gospel follows on from the Eucharistic discourse that has been the theme of the last few weeks in our liturgical journey. Sadly, apart from the twelve, many deserted him due to not having the faith to believe in Jesus despite what they had seen and heard with their own eyes and ears. When Jesus saw that many who had initially followed him were now leaving, he turned to the apostles and said, ‘Will you also leave me?’ Peter responds with, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy one of God.’
This is one of the clearest and greatest professions of faith in the Gospel. Peter is stating clearly that Jesus is not just a wonderful preacher and healer of ailments, but that He was the Holy One of God. Jesus provides us with the words of eternal life, and we can come and listen to these words each Sunday when he speaks to us through the Gospel reading.
‘Will you also leave me?’ These words are also addressed to us today. The Lord does not abandon us or leave us alone. It is we who become discouraged and may end up leaving him. We need to use the words that Peter did in his great profession of faith: ‘Lord. To whom shall we go, you have the words of eternal life.’
For all of us this question from Jesus is a decisive moment. One of the greatest gifts that God has given us is freedom of choice. God does not use us as His puppets, but rather allows us to make our own choices, and this is a sign that God loves us. We have the ability to always choose between good and evil. Since we have been given this freedom, we must choose one or the other. Even to make no choice is a choice. However, this does not mean that God has left us to ourselves. He has given us his Son and his life on earth and the graces that flow from Jesus to help us make the right choice.
Please familiarise yourselves with the location of the fire exits, extinguishers, and assembly points at this church. To follow Christ means we will always be free. Being free does not mean that we do whatever we like, but when we do what is right.