After hearing the teaching of Jesus some of his followers commented: “This is intolerable language. How could anyone accept it?” At that point many of them “stopped going with him.” (ref. today’s Gospel)
I can understand how they felt and why they might have called it quits.
There are many times when I have found the teaching of Jesus to be too challenging, too difficult and even intolerable. In these moments many other easily available options appear to be much more satisfying and more socially acceptable. I have tried many of these offerings and now from personal experience I have to admit that my flawed grasping at immediate satisfaction never delivers the happiness that it promises.
I’ve always liked St. Peter. I remember as a teenager being asked to choose a Confirmation name. Immediately I knew that I wanted mine to be Peter and so Peter is the name Bishop Ashby used when he confirmed me.
I was moved by Peter’s example; showing that falling and failing could be more of a beginning than an end.
I remember thinking that in my life I would probably not fail as much as Peter did by publicly and explicitly denying Jesus when he needed me most, so if there was hope for Peter there was certainly always hope for me.
I was inspired by Peter’s humility allowing Jesus to pick him up every time he fell. I hoped that in my life I would also be able to follow Peter’s example and every day give myself over to a greater divine power.
I am still moved and deeply encouraged by Peter’s realisation that life without Jesus was just an existence at the whim of every fashion and political and social agenda. Why would I settle for such a reduced survival, a mere existence, when abundant life was on offer and available to me whenever I call to Jesus for help?
Despite his weakness and foolish decisions Peter continued to allow Jesus to help him up. Peter continued to choose life:
“Then Jesus said to the Twelve, ‘What about you, do you want to go away too?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘ Lord, who shall we go to? You have the message of eternal life, and we believe; we know that you are the Holy One of God.’