Jn 6:60-69

Do you also want to leave?[1] Jesus asks His closest followers. Many of his disciples had just decided that what they heard from Jesus was not to their liking. They were not happy with what following Jesus entailed. “This saying is hard; who can accept it?[2] they left: they “returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.[3]

So, Jesus turned to his closest followers to see how they felt. “Do you also want to leave?[4]  Jesus asks this to all His followers; then and now, throughout history. He has shown us the way to heaven by His actions and His words. His teachings are universal, eternal, absolute and the best for us. They are so because they are the truth; not just a truth but the truth. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life…[5] He tells us. He is the eternal Word of God. He is not a truth that was good only for his time on earth but eternal Truth. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever.[6] A famous biblical quote, but do we live it?

Christ doesn’t force us to this revelation, His love for us allows us to decide. We are given the freedom to decide. And it is our understanding of freedom, brothers and sisters, that clouds our ability to see clearly.

We use the word ‘freedom’ easily, but do we truly understand its true meaning. Do we use it as a building moment or do we ‘also want to leave’ the path of eternal wisdom because it doesn’t suit us.

How many of us have run into the problem of children rebelling against our decisions and rules, only to have them, many years later, admit we were right, either verbally or by their actions. How many times have we seen decisions being challenged and the cry of independence and freedom being tossed about.

Freedom, isn’t being able to do what you want regardless of the effect on those around us; this is anarchy, chaos. We are social animals, living in community and following our Lord in trying to build a vision of Heaven here on earth. So, what is freedom? It was Lord Acton[7], who reduced all rhetoric about freedom to its base: “freedom is not the power of doing what we like, but the right of being able to do what we ought.[8]

Freedom, our free decision to choose needs truth – absolute truth. We are searching for the ability to be free and by necessity that means to follow the truth of our creation because that is how we are made, what we are made for. The old Baltimore Catechism states this right at the beginning – question #6: Q. Why did God make you?  A. God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in heaven.

This means that there are trail markers, that there are right and wrong steps that we have to navigate to be free. So, how do we fulfill this lesson and thus come to the true understanding of freedom? Jesus Christ is the answer; and why? Because Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life”[9] Jesus didn’t condition this basic truth. He didn’t say that He was a way, the relative truth, an easy life. No, He said: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.”[10]

Brothers and sisters, we are here worshipping the one true God. We are preparing ourselves to dine at the eternal banquet of salvation. When it is our turn to receive the body and blood of Lord we say ‘Amen’; meaning that we agree with everything that Holy Mother Church received from Christ and passes on to us. Not some things, and not just some of the time; but everything and for every moment of our lives. The apostles believed this even when many of the followers left the journey. Because, as they told Jesus: “You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.[11]

I pray that when Jesus looks into my heart he sees a man who is trying to answer His continual question: “Do you also want to leave?[12] with the words of His faithful apostles: “We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.[13] So, in my prays I include: ‘with your help Lord, please make me strong with your truths and set me free.’

[1] John 6:67
[2] John 6:60
[3] John 6:66
[4] John 6:67
[5] John 14:6
[6] Heb 13:8
[7] John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton, 13th Marquess of Groppoli, 1/10/1834 – 6/19/1902
[8] Lord Acton“The Roman Question” from The Rambler (January 1860). The quote has also used ‘liberty’ instead of ‘freedom’
[9] John 14:6
[10] ibid
[11] John 6:69
[12] John 6:68
[13] John 6:69