"Do You Also Want to Leave?”
"Do You Also Want to Leave?” (John 6:67)
This question of the Lord in the Gospel, taken in the context of ordinary life, is addressed not simply to the intellect but also to the heart of the person being asked. Neither is it a question that is nonchalantly or disinterestedly posed and the answer, either positive or negative, does not really matter. If addressed to someone you care about, the reply matters a lot.
The question, translated into the Filipino language, is nuanced thus: “Kayo din ba, gusto niyo akong iwanan?” Literally, “Do you, even you, want to leave me?” The reply makes a difference. Because at the back of his mind and from his heart, he would want you to stay.
There is a Spanish saying: "Amor con amor se paga" or "Love begets love." But there is also such a thing as unrequited love, love that is not returned. Love is not necessarily mutual; sometimes there is a falling out of love, and heartaches can occur.
I think that when our Lord Jesus asked this very same question of the Twelve, He was ready to get the same answer as the reaction from the crowd because His sayings were obviously hard, even impossible to understand. But at the same time, He wanted them to stay because He had specially chosen them to follow Him. They had walked with Him for quite a time, for many miles and in many places, ate all their meals in His company, slept where He slept and listened to what He had to say to them. They were the most special people called from among many by Someone Who wanted to reveal to them things not known before by anyone. Besides, He had a special plan for them.
Peter's answer on behalf of the Twelve: "Master, to whom shall we go?"
There was no other person around, not even rabbis in their Jewish faith, that had spoken to them like Jesus, Who revealed to them who God the Father was and how the Father loved them. No rabbi had spoken to them as confidently and as authoritatively as He did. No chief priest had told them how God wanted people to relate to God and to one another but their Master.
The three years they spent walking with Jesus had produced in them a certain faith and love that it was difficult for them to just walk away, unlike the thousands of men who had followed Him and were fed bread that He multiplied after he had asked them to sit on the grass on a hill.
"To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. And we have come to believe and are convinced that You are the Holy One of God." This was Peter's full profession of faith and love for their Master.
Humanly speaking, it is extremely hard to believe that a man can give his flesh to eat and his blood to drink. It is difficult to believe that a person is like the manna that came down from heaven that when eaten would give eternal life. But He said it with authority, and when all except the Twelve turned their backs on Him and walked away, He did not change His claim just so they would come back. All they were interested in was to be fed the bread that would satisfy their physical hunger.
After a few days, the Master revealed how he would make Himself bread to eat and blood to drink and commanded the faithful apostles to "Do this in memory of Me."
Now we know. But those sayings are still incomprehensible to the finite human mind, not to the One Who created the earth, the sun, the moon and the stars.
And yet do all believe? Now only a fraction who had previously believed in the Transubstantiation still do. Only 25% still do. In effect, 75% have left or walked away. They no longer believe that Jesus comes in the form of bread to feed our souls.
To the question: "Do you also want to leave?" I think what our Lord Jesus wants us to answer is: “Lord, I will not leave, not because I understand how Your hard sayings work, but because You said it Whom I believe and Who I know cares about me.
As for those who have walked away, He has a special invitation: "Come back to Me. It is not too late. I will give you eternal life." #
" I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever, and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us [his] flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats[s] my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day."