Lord to whom shall we go?
It didn’t take long for the first scandal to break out among the disciples.
Jesus said in yesterday’s Gospel: Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you cannot know the life of God.
Harsh words that even today cause division in the Body of Christianity.
Harsh words that caused some of the earliest followers of the Way to walk away.
And of course, with Jesus the potential for scandal is always present. He himself was a scandal.
He presented to the word the scandal of the eternal God born in time, born in poverty.
He presented to the world the power of God, born in the weakness of a dependent infant.
He presented to the world the might of God, consumed by real temptation, plagued by real emotion, encompassed by the real human condition.
He presented to the world the strength of God, beaten, spat upon, ridiculed, condemned and nailed to a cross.
He presented to the world the all encompassing reality of God encompassed in the circumference of a piece of bread.
Is that not scandalous? Doesn’t the very premise of the incarnation, the glorious and gross admixture of the human and the divine lend itself to scandal.
Should we be surprised that the prolonged event of Christ in the world, an event we call the Church should continue to be plagued by the very humanity that it represents at its core.
And as we know, for some of the disciples there might always be the temptation to walk away.
But don’t we say: Lord to whom we shall go?
For while there is weakness in the Body of Christ there is also strength.
While there is temptation in the Body of Christ, there is also the ability to overcome that temptation.
While there is scandal and confusion in the Body of Christ there is also the reality that allows us to make sense of the confusion.
Christ gives us his Body and Blood to consume and in doing so becomes weak for us, a scandal for us, and our only hope, our only strength, our only grasp at Divinity.
And so with weakened minds and hearts, with spirits contrite and confused we don’t walk away, but come forward to this table and with hands outstretched, hands of scandalous repute, reach for the God who alone has the Words of everlasting life.
My brothers, in these weeks we come to the end of our common journey in this house of the Lord’s service, at least for a while. Some of our brothers will be going forward on different paths, following the will of God in their lives by seeking His face in other vocations. Most of us in the coming months will walk that wide circle through many experiences that will be eventually draw us back to this Hill to test the power of a scandalous God to change our lives. All of us will continue to live in the reality of the Incarnation, a strange and wonderful reality that asserts itself by drawing us to the power of God even as it points to the reality of our weakness, our internal scandals. Brothers, in faith, for those of us who have seen how God works, by experiencing his power in the weakness of our sin, in the Eucharist, in reconciliation, in the wonder of this community of love, support and formation; there is nowhere else to go. Thus we all depart this year in the glorious realization of the Easter mystery, the mystery of loss and gain, of hope, of great hope. Go with the blessing of the rector and the staff and be always who you are: The Body of Christ announcing His presence to a scandal-ridden world.