Jesus is abandoned

August 17, 2009

This is a difficult moment in Jesus’ ministry. He loses some members of his band—maybe a lot of them: “many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him.”

Why?
Was it because The Way is harder than they had thought it would be when
they signed up? Or because “eternal life” is beginning to look like
something other than an endless physical sojourn in a tropical paradise?
Is it the puzzling things Jesus has said about his relationship with
God? Or is the specter of death looming over it all, and seeming to come
closer?

There is a rare plaintive note in Jesus’ question to the
ones who remain—only 12 of them, apparently. “Do you also wish to go
away?” he asks, and waits for an answer. Who is to say that his
confidence was not shaken by this considerable defection? After all, we
preach that Jesus was fully human and fully divine, and the capacity for
self-doubt is one of the most important qualities a person can possess.

I know that the writer of this passage is concerned, as are many Christians, that his Jesus never be
shaken, never doubt—for Jesus knew from the first which ones did not
believe, and which one would betray him. The writer's Jesus must be in
control at all times.

But I don’t need Jesus to be that way; it’s
all right with me if he didn’t know everything. Jesus’ divinity is not
impaired by the presence in him of human frailty. That’s what the
Incarnation is: God becoming flesh, with everything that being flesh
entails. Incarnation is not about God becoming some kind of titan who
walks the earth unscathed by its sorrows. Jesus is no superman. Besides
being truly God, Jesus is truly us.

The meal in which Jesus is
“eaten” is a spiritual one. The paradox of the Real Presence is exactly
that of the Incarnation: true bread and true body, true God and true
human. Both at once, and each one true. Retaining everything that flesh
is, but bursting the limits of it—bread that doesn’t rot, bread that
never runs out, bread that satisfies forever, bread that is always
enough.

In the Eucharist we eat eternal life, practicing the
oneness of heaven as we take the body and blood into our bodies. We look
to a life in which the constraints and barriers that our physicality
imposes on us all fall away.

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Homesick cornbread

In large bowl, cream together 2/3 cup softened butter and 1 cup sugar.

In another bowl, mix 3 eggs and 1 2/3 cup milk.

In
yet another bowl, mix 2 1/3 cups flour, 1 cup cornmeal, 3 tsp baking
powder and 1 tsp salt. Add to creamed mixture alternately with egg
mixture.

Pour into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking pan.
Bake at 400 degrees F for 22-27 minutes or until a toothpick inserted
near the center comes out clean. Cut into squares; serve warm. 12
servings.