Jesus knew that some of His followers did not have faith… He knew that there is a difference between being present, listening to, expecting miracles on the one hand, and having a sincere faith on the other. On the streets of our cities, we can find people performing tricks, sometimes singing or dancing. Usually, a crowd gathers around those people to see what is about to happen and enjoy the performance. The entertainment takes some time, and after the appearance, the people go home, having a pleasant memory of what they have seen.
We can suspect that some of Jesus’ followers expressed the same attitude. They enjoyed his miracles and his powerful speeches. Maybe they expected to experience something supernatural in their own complicated circumstances. But, eventually, they were gone. Their understanding of what Jesus was teaching them did not go beyond a good way of spending time. A characteristic feature of entertainment is that it brings a tidal joy. When the performance ends, life goes on as the show had never happened – the only thing left is a good recollection.
The question Jesus asks His disciples in today’s Gospel causes an immediate answer by Simon Peter. He gives the argument why some disciples stayed with Christ instead of leaving like other people. They remained because they treated Jesus’ teaching seriously. For them, it was something more profound than a series of enjoyable events, but something movingly touching their whole lives. “You have the message of eternal life”.
Let us use this opportunity to ask ourselves about the reason for our attending religious practices, attending Mass, or a prayer group. What am I looking for there? It is easy to fall into the trap of emotional experiences and limit faith to such emotions. After a beautiful religious encounter with Christ, one leaves for the external life and behaves as if he was not a Christian. Jesus’ message involves the entire person and his/her entire life. Christianity is not about entertainment only but also about commitments. It is about internal disposition that transcends physical presence or miraculous events or trying to behave to be considered pious. Do I find my peace in Christ and His Gospel, or do I come to Jesus just for a tenable enjoyment and go elsewhere?
Łukasz Gołąb – Seminary of the Good Shepherd, Sydney, Australia
Fot. Emily Morter/Unsplash.com