21st Sunday in Ordinary Time (Fr. Vinner)
MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICE: CHRIST THE HOLY ONE OF GOD
My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
On this twenty first Sunday of ordinary time, the church invites and encourages us to always choose Christ, the Holy One of God. At times when we come to the cross road of life, we are confused about which way forward. The truth is that these cross roads are moments in our life when we need to make choices that will make or mar our future; and decisions that will affect, and shape our future relationship with God, others, and our environment.
At a point in my own life, I came to one of these cross roads of choosing between responding to the call and will of God and, pursuing more academics endeavors, better jobs, and of course, money. It was a difficult and confusing moment. However, the Holy Spirit provided the illumination and inspiration I needed to make the right choice. That choice is why I am doing what I am doing, and why I am where I am today, fulfilling the will of God.
This Sunday, our first reading and gospel have a lot in common. Both are about making a choice between remaining with, and abandoning God. Joshua asked the Israelites to make a choice between serving God and other gods. Christ asked his disciples: “What about you, do you want to go away too? Using the analogy of marriage, Paul explains and reminds us that just as a man or a woman chooses a wife or a husband due to love, so did Christ choose and took us (his church) to himself: “…He made her the (church) clean by washing her in water with a form of words, so that when he took her to himself she would be glorious, and with no speck…but holy and faultless…”
The choice we make determine whether we will have live or not. When we reject good Christian values we make a bad choice. When we reject the word of God, we make a wrong choice by rejecting the Holy One of God. It is important to note that, choosing God does not mean that we will be become completely trouble free. However, the truth is that choosing to remain with Christ is the best choice to make in life. King David displayed his wisdom when he was presented with two options of punishment for his people. He said: “I do not want to be punished by human beings. Let the Lord himself be the one to punish us, for he is merciful.” (2 Sam 24, 10-25). In spite of all odds, choosing to remain with Christ is, and will always be the best choice for anyone who is as wise. This is because, he is a loving and merciful Lord and, because, He has the message of eternal life. Concluding his long Eucharistic discourse, Jesus, in today’s Gospel, challenges his Jewish audience to make their choice of accepting him as the true Bread from Heaven who gives his Body and Blood as their Heavenly Food, or of joining those who have lost their Faith in him and left him, expressing their confusion and doubts about his claims. Today’s passage describes the various reactions of the people to Jesus’ claims. Jesus gives his twelve apostles the option of leaving him or staying with him. The apostles exercise their freedom of choice by choosing to stay with Jesus. In this Eucharistic celebration, we, too, are called to make a decision, profess our Faith in God’s Son and renew the Covenant ratified in Jesus’ life, death and Resurrection.
The psalmist tells us that: “Those who choose or run to other gods multiply their sorrows” (Ps 16, 4) When we reject His words, and destroy His natural order, we end up multiplying our sorrows. This is because, that is the choice we have made. When we choose to run away from God, we lose our direction. Unfortunately, we might encounter the other “Unmerciful and Wicked Master” on our path. So, no matter how hard it is for us to understand the ways and words of Christ, let us remain with him because, He is the best choice for our life.
So like Joshua, let us say: “As for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord.” Like the Israelites, let us say: “…We have no intention of deserting the God and serving other gods”. As faithful couples remain united to each other, let us remain united with Christ who first chose and took us to himself. Finally, like real, sincere and faithful disciples of Jesus, let us say: “Lord who shall we go to? You have the message of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” Today let us joyfully sing this wonderful song: “I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back, no going back.”
Life messages: Let us make our choice for Christ and live it: We Christians have accepted the challenge of following the way of Christ and making choices for Christ, fortified by the Bread Jesus gives and relying on the power of the Holy Spirit. The Heavenly Bread and the Holy Spirit will give us the courage of our Christian convictions to take a stand for Jesus, to accept the Church’s teachings and to face ridicule, criticisms and even social isolation for our adherence to sound Christian principles in our lives. That is what we mean by our “Amen” as we receive Jesus in Holy Communion. We express without any conditions or reservations our total commitment to him in the community to which we belong. Christ’s thoughts and attitudes, his values, his life-view must become totally ours. Above all, we are to identify with Jesus in the offering of his Flesh and the pouring out of his Blood on the cross by spending our own lives for others.
May God Bless us.
FR. S.Vinner HGN