There is a stirring scene in the sixth chapter of John's Gospel, a chapter referred to as the "Bread of Life Discourse." Jesus had just told the crowd, "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life." The response by nearly all was, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?" Jesus returns with, "The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing." And then, in the 66th verse of chapter 6 of John's Gospel, or rather John 6:66, almost everyone leaves: "From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him."
The crowd who abandoned Jesus had abandoned hope. They despaired. So, what did they do? They turned back to the emptiness of merely existing in the flesh. This emptiness, or desolation, is the place the devil wants us to be. It is Satan's kingdom.
I believe it is no accident that the chapter and verse of this act of despair in John's Gospel is 666. We are given free will. We can choose God or not. In the Book of Revelation, 666 is the number of the beast or the number of man. Once separated from God, Satan wants us to believe we are merely one animal (beast) among many; just part of the herd. So, like animals, we are left to scramble to fill this void with worldly wants and lusts; works of the flesh.
Make no mistake about it, the influencers of our culture (media, Hollywood, TV, universities, public schools, etc.) are, by and large, godless propagandists who are determined to instill in us the notion that we are "merely animals." Therefore, women are objectified, men are just vulgar beasts, pre-born babies are a clump of cells, and the nuclear family - the bedrock of civilization - is outdated. As the Satanist Aleister Crowley said: "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law." Just be animals.
After the crowd abandoned Jesus in despair, He then said to the Twelve, "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."
The Apostles were not buying the lie of the devil. No, we are not just animals; we are precious children of God, created in His image. Therefore, life in the Spirit is filled with the hope of a joyful and amazing journey of striving to please God in every way, especially by striving to become the best version of ourselves we can possibly be. And, just as Jesus demonstrated on the cross, we are called to a total selfless love of neighbor.
The crowd abandoned Him in despair, but the Apostles stayed with Him in hope. If we want the hope of all meaning and purpose in life as a child of God, we simply must get near to Him, because "the Spirit gives life." We must combat the temptation of allowing our faith to devolve into merely "punching the clock" by fulfilling basic obligations. Many avoid an intimate relationship with the Lord because, like the crowd, they believe, "This is a hard teaching." In other words, if we "let God in" He will ask "too much" from us. It's better to keep God at arm's length - a manageable distance.
It's time to make it personal. It's time to get near to Him before the Blessed Sacrament, to spend time adoring Our Lord. This can be done by scheduling an hour at a local adoration chapel, or you can simply come early or stay after Mass. Be careful though, because you may just find yourself crying out, "My Lord and my God!" ... and then everything will change. Your life, filled with hope, will rise to new and exciting heights!
"Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint" (Isaiah 40:31).