I point out this specific line of scripture for a couple of reasons. First, the full reading:
In John 6: 60-69, Jesus’ disciples react harshly to Jesus’ teaching in a synagogue instruction at Capernaum about the eating of the flesh of the Son of Man and drinking his blood.
“This saying is hard; who can accept it?” they say.
And Jesus responds. “Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.”
The reading goes on to say, “Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe
and the one who would betray him.” He says, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.“
The reading says, “As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life
and no longer accompanied him.”
Jesus says to the twelve Apostles, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”
As I said, I pointed out the specific line from today’s scripture for a couple of reasons.
First, it’s interesting to note that not all of Jesus’ disciples stuck with the program. Jesus already knew who they would be, according to John’s account. Jesus says, only by the Father’s granting can one come to know Jesus. The twelve Apostles obviously had the blessing of the Father.
Second, I want to point out to the faithful the gift that we have in being granted faith in Jesus Christ. It doesn’t come to everyone, at least not all at once. Many of the faithful attack those who aren’t Christians, but we need to remember that they haven’t yet been granted that access by the Father. Maybe they will one day be invited to believe in Jesus.
Likely there will be those who haven’t been given access that when they are granted access will still not accept. People can be stubborn that way. But God acts in his own good time. We can’t condemn others who don’t see what we see; instead we must be patient while the Father chooses the time that is right for each of our unseeing brothers and sisters.
Pope Francis while speaking at Mass in Philadelphia in the United States this past week basically said that we shouldn’t crimp God’s style. That we shouldn’t be offended by God’s audacity. There are many faiths but one God. He speaks to many different people in many different ways. So even while God speaks to us as Christians, he may grant faith to others in other ways. Our self assurance that our faith is the one true faith may be misplaced.
We cannot assume that because someone is not a follower of Christ or of any other form of the one God that it is because they are a stubborn heathen. Perhaps God has simply not approached them yet. On the other hand, if it is because they are a stubborn non-believer, Jesus gives us another answer. In Luke 9: 1-6, Jesus says “Wherever they do not welcome you, as you are leaving that town shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” We can walk away with no residue of failure, although we can still pray for them.