RCL Year B, Proper 16
Joshua 24:1-2a and 14-18, Psalm 34:15-22, Ephesians 6:10-20, Saint John 6:56-69

“This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?”[1]

These words come from the unbelievers in today’s Gospel. They are the people who think they know everything. But the truth is that they know only half. They know the flesh—they know, like so many people and like so many people in Saint John’s Gospel, only what their senses tell them. They know what the eye sees and the ear hears and the nose smells. But Jesus tells them about the Spirit, the Spirit that gives life. And since they think they know everything, and since they do not know about the Spirit, they can only say, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?”

If you think you know everything—or if I think I know everything—then Jesus, the Church, and the Sacraments all seem to be inconsequential and irrelevant. They seem to be irrelevant, because they open up to us another world, the world of life and forgiveness, the world of mercy and justice, the world of love and peace.

No. Jesus, the Church, and the Sacraments are not for people who know everything. Jesus, the Church, and the Sacraments are for everyone, everyone of good will, everyone who wants to live better, to see clearer, and to hear softer and deeper things. They are for people like the Apostle Peter who yearn for eternal things: “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.”[2] They are for people who know that in God’s hands no disaster lasts for long and who know that God keeps his own, and keeps them forever.

[1] Saint John 6:60.

[2] Saint John 6:69.