Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

The long teaching on the Eucharist was over.  Jesus had not covered His message in terms that could be open to interpretation.  He did not say, “I am speaking symbolically here.”  He did not say, “This is like my flesh.”  He said, that the Bread He would give is His flesh.” His followers needed to eat His Body and drink His Blood. He even used words for eating that meant to grind up with your teeth.  “This is hard to take,” some of the disciples complained. “People are leaving you,” the disciples moaned. “The choice is yours,” Jesus responds. “Will you leave too?” And then Peter makes a great profession of faith: Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believeand are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.

   Peter and Joshua, the Hebrews who heard Jesus speak, and the ancients who followed Joshua into the Promised Land,  were certainly not the only ones facing a choice. In the early days of the Church, Christians had to choose following Christ or losing their possessions and even their lives. This continues in various areas of the world in our own time.  Now Christians throughout Asia are persecuted by ISIS or its affiliates. Christians living in areas and countries where the faith is persecuted are faced with choosing the Lord daily. The choice is there, and they accept the Lord regardless of the implications of their choice.
The choice is also presented to us, and presented to us daily.  Are we to take the leap of faith and choose the Lord even when He asks us to believe in that which is impossible for the mind to come to, or do we leave for an easier, less challenging faith? Are we to accept living the Law of the Lord as presented by our faith, or are we to join in with the materialist lifestyle of the world? Are we to live a moral life, or join those who mock all who are committed to the Lord?  The choice is there for us. Like Peter, we have to realize that no one else has the words of eternal life.  Like Joshua, we have to decide to follow the way of Lord.

   Many people are still asking the Lord to tone it down some.  “OK, Lord,” they say, “I know abortion is wrong, I know infidelity is wrong, I know stealing is wrong, but maybe in this case, in that case, it is acceptable.” We need to be committed to a following of the Lord that some would call radical, but in reality is simply authentic. Our need is based on the One who is calling us to faith. It is Jesus Christ. If we refuse to follow Him, where exactly can we go? Whom can we follow?  Who else has the words of eternal life? Are we convinced that Jesus is the Holy One of God?  We say we are.  But if we are really convinced, then we really have no choice.  Eternal Life can only be found in Him.

   The conclusion of John 6 is far more than a call to believe in the Eucharist. It is this, but it is more. It is a call to trust in the Lord.  It is a call to dare to be different from those who have left him and who give lip service to their Christianity. We are called to be different.  We are called to be holy, for, after all, that is what holiness is, being separate for the Lord.  We have a choice.....Or do we?   No, we really don’t have a choice. Where else can we go?  He alone has the words of eternal life •

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris