Yes, it is Monday, but I am still stuck on Sunday’s Gospel from John that began like this:
Many of Jesus’disciples who were listening said,
“This saying is hard; who can accept it?”
Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this,
he said to them, “Does this shock you?
My mind goes in a few directions:
1. The passage that we heard last Sunday, which precedes this one, about eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking his blood
2. The reading from Ephesians that preceded the Gospel today
3. Accepting any of it – and then living it
This is not some click through on the internet, in which we “accept” and move on. There is quite a bit to accept, and how we see, hear, interpret, and understand these things, matters. This makes me want to offer a few thoughts and questions for prayer, reflection, and discussion, should you be moved to speak. And yes, I hope you do comment.
If you are a Catholic, do you ever think about what it means to eat flesh and drink blood?
There are countless movies, TV programs, books, and more about zombies and vampires. Just last night, a new one premiered. What good is a zombie if they aren’t sexy, blond zombie – right? (Insert deep sigh and big eye roll here) I’m no fan of the genre, so the whole zombie thing is lost on me. It is curious to me that we as a culture are obsessed with such dystopian themes, and that is seen clearly in the on-going popularity of zombie and vampire material.
So the question for me is, why do we (the collective we) think so much about eating flesh and drinking blood in art and medai? Yet, in our religious or spiritual reality it is often not thought about deeply, or even considered. Many, typically outside of the church, would scoff at our belief.
Truly we are called to believe this consumption of flesh and blood. No wonder the apostles were murmuring to one another! Who can accept it?
Um, Ephesians. (insert bigger, louder, deeper sigh and a tear rolling down my cheek, hold the eye roll) Notice how the lectionary gives the parish an opt-out with two potential versions, one that skips the wives be submissive to your husbands. As a lector, I am always grateful when I do not have to read on this Sunday.
What message did you hear on Sunday? I heard a homily that reflected on cultural context and the place of both women and slaves at that time in history. This allowed me to exhale, because such thoughts were commonly accepted at St Paul’s time. And far into our own time! The idea we were told, is that we are all to submit to Christ.
Sounds good, like eating flesh and blood, but along those lines, do we really think about it? Deeply? Submitting is seen as cowardice in our culture, aren’t we all warriors and super-achievers? Or supposed to be? Yet we are all supposed to be submissive. Who can accept it?
Which brings us to the entire idea of who can accept what… I am left thinking that we must all submit to Christ, which means accepting a lot of difficult things. This means I am stuck with having to wrestle with topics that are hard to consider, and to live more deeply. What a pain! Can’t I just go to mass on Sunday and leave it at that? Of course I can – and you can – and that is that, but what do we miss by not diving deeper?
Or do we submit, come to the table, and dive into what we can barely believe? This is not time for literalistic and fundamentalist readings of things, but rather an invitation to submit to the Christ who brings us life. Sounds good, I feel like I believe it, but I’m holding back somehow, not fully accepting something. I don’t know, what do you think. These saying are hard, aren’t they? Who can accept it?