This Sunday’s readings send me back to the choice I have made in my life; most especially to check how I’m living them out. I suppose, you too, you have made several choices in your life. How are you living them? Let’s profit from this Sunday and see how we can gain a new momentum in living fully our choices.
Bible Readings Joshua 24: 1–18 Psalm 34: 2–3, 16–23 Ephesians 5: 21–32 John 6: 60–69
From euphoria to deception
If we do the recap of chapter 6 of the Gospel according to John, that we have been reading the past few Sundays, it all began with the multiplication of five bread and two fish and over five thousand persons ate to their satisfaction, and there were leftovers. Excited, the people thought of Jesus as the promised messiah, so why hesitate? They wanted to make him their king. Euphoria! Jesus sneaked away, but the people went searching for him. Realising that they had missed the point of this gesture, Jesus took time to explain. His intention was not just to give bread for the bellies, but he was himself the bread from heaven who came to give lasting life, by his own body and bread. Intolerable!
Who can bear such cannibalism? Some followers make U-turn. No more wanting to make him their king, they stop following him. Deception! Then, Jesus turns to his disciples with a question: “You do not want to leave too, do you?” It’s Peter who answers, even on behalf of the others: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” What a beautiful declaration! But how deep? Well, let take a pause here.
Jesus touches the peak of what he’s been trying to communicate to the people, but it’s scandalous to their ears. Jesus does not tone down on the truth of what his mission is about. His concern is not to make himself a star or a politician who will count on the number of fans around him. No wonder he challenges his disciples too to make their choice clear. Today, he’s challenging us: and you, what’s the guide of your life?
Today we live the reign of marches. Just look at the number of new laws that are being enacted in the countries around the world. You would say it’s more out pressure of the mob than a serious reflection on what defines us as human beings. It’s not just on public platform, it’s true also in our personal lives. Many are the times when we are swayed by what everyone else is doing, making it a norm of life. That’s different from the attitude of Jesus in the face of massive rejection. He stands for what’s true, that’s his choice when he said yes to the mission that his father entrusted to him. And me, how steadfast am I in the choices I have made in my life?
This is inacceptable
“This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” the followers of Jesus react. And so, they desert him. Don’t hurry to judge them. Certainly, you too you may have been scandalised by one or two of Jesus’ teachings, even though it may not be about eating his body and drinking his blood. Just imagine those persons whom detest because they have destroyed your marriage, they have ruined your business or job, they have damaged your reputation; and yet, what does Jesus tell you to do? Love them! Pray for them! Isn’t that scandalous enough? They are plenty similar scandals in the gospels. And every moment you meet such blocks of his hard teaching; he turns to you with a question: do you want to go?
Choice founded on trust in Jesus
There you realise that being a follower of Jesus is not just a euphoria of a decision taken in a moment of sheer excitement. Rather, when you build a deep relationship with Jesus you can still experience moments of hard teaching, and yet you can still hold onto him because you have found in him words that give you life. Then you can say like Peter, to whom can I go, you have words that give me life. But then, that shouldn’t just be a mere beautiful declaration; rather, because you have a relationship of trust with him.
So, remember the beautiful declarations you may have made, in one way or another, especially in your profession: as nurse, doctor, teacher or any other. How do you live them out? Others still, may have made commitments in religious life, in marriage or as priests. Just remember that colourful celebrations you had; remember the generosity with which you pronounced your vows -how do you live them today?
Go back to your Sichem
Well, at certain points in life we reach crossroads. We have been trotting on certain roads sure of where we are going. And then, there comes a time of questions, doubts, fears; and we may find ourselves being swayed by currents. It’s time to renew our choice, like what’s happening at Sichem, in the First reading.
The people of Israel have been liberated from the land of slavery in Egypt and they conquered a new land where they will settle. But then something happens. They become attracted to certain ways of the Canaanites, like idol worshipping. At one time they claim allegiance to the God of Israel, and at another time they worship idols -a kind of double play. That’s why Joshua challenges them: no games! You had better make your choice clear. Choose the one who want to serve.
Perhaps, this Sunday it’s our turn to get to our Sichem; it’s time to make our choice. Well, Jesus, I invite you; be my guide in the choices I’m making today in my life.
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