Sunday Reflection: 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B
1st Reading Joshua 24:1-2a, 15-17, 18b
2nd Reading Ephesians 5:21-32
Gospel John 6:60-69
One of the difficult parts of life is decision making. This makes many of us rethink of many things that it leads us to a situation that will make us either a hero or a villain in our own story or in the lives of others. In the reality of things, we do make many choices in life every single day.
In our readings today, the same is true. We have to make a conscious choice and we have to make it voluntarily with the full force of our freewill. Our 1st Reading shows how Joshua challenges the people of Israel to make a choice, whether to serve God or not. They have arrived already in the promised land, and they are surrounded by different tribes who have different gods and goddesses. Joshua told the people, “If it does not please you to serve the Lord, decide today whom you will serve… As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” At this the people responded, “Far be it from us to forsake the Lord for the service of other gods…. Therefore, we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.” These words are so beautiful, or we can say it is too good to be true. We know the story very well that after that event, these people will turn their backs from the Lord and serve other gods. This people chose the Lord as their God because of the things He did for them. They received many things from Him. But when things are progressing well in their lives, they forgot God who gave them all these. Our choices are mostly coming from our experience of how easy life can be. We always make decision according to how little effort we have to make or how easy these can be done.
In our gospel, many disciples left Jesus because they cannot accept His words, “This saying is hard; who can accept it,” they said. Jesus pointed out to them that to have life, they must partake of His Body and Blood. To consume the Body and Blood of Jesus is the key to eternal life, because partaking His Body and Blood makes them part of Himself, we become like Christ. The Eucharist transforms us into Christ. Jesus points to us that we have to be transformed by what we receive. We can never remain the same if we partake of Him. And it is here that Jesus would address those who remained, “Do you also want to leave?” Jesus wants them to make a choice, to remain with Him even if there are many difficulties or just go on with life as it is. The same is asked of us, will we remain with Jesus even if life is hard and uncertain, even amid all the difficulties and suffering we are encountering? May we have the same response with that of Simon Peter, “Lord, 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.”
Choosing to be faithful with Lord both in personal and public life is never easy, many will judge us, but it is not for them that we have to make a choice. Our conviction and love for God must be the source of our choices, whatever it might be.