Friday, August 21, 2015

Why do we stay?

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
August 23, 2015

John 6:60-69

Over these years, there have been multiple analyses and studies on the crisis of the Christian denominations in modern society. This reading is necessary to better know some facts, but insufficient to discern what should be our reaction. The episode narrated by John can help us interpret and experience the crisis with more evangelical depth.

According to the evangelist, Jesus sums up the crisis that is developing in his group thus: "The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe." It's true. Jesus puts a new spirit in those who follow him, his words convey life. The program he is proposing can generate a movement capable of guiding the world toward a fuller and more dignified life.

But the fact of being in his group doesn't guarantee faith. Some people are reluctant to accept his spirit and life. Their presence in Jesus' surroundings is fictitious; their faith in him isn't real. The real crisis within Christianity is always this: Do we believe in Jesus or not?

The narrator says that "many turned back and no longer accompanied him." In the crisis, who the true followers of Jesus are is revealed. The decisive choice is always that: Who turns back and who remains with him, identified with his spirit and his life? Who is in favor and who is against his plan?

The group begins to decrease. Jesus doesn't get irritated; he doesn't pronounce any judgment against anyone. He only asks one question to those who have remained with him, "Do you also want to leave?." It's the question he's asking those of us who are still in the Church today: What do we want? Why have we stayed? Is it to follow Jesus, accepting his spirit and living in his style? Is it to work on his plan?

Peter's response is exemplary: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of everlasting life." Those who stay must do so for Jesus. Only for Jesus. For nothing else. They are committed to him. The only reason to stay in his group is him. Nobody else.

However painful it may seem, the current crisis will be positive if those of us, many or few, who stay in the Church become disciples of Jesus, that is, men and women who live based on his words of life.

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