21st ORDINARY SUNDAY YEAR B WILL YOU ALSO LEAVE ME? Jos 24:1-2, 15-18; Eph 5: 21-32; Jn 6:60-69
When many people were leaving him, Jesus turned to the apostles and said, “WILL YOU ALSO LEAVE ME?” And Peter replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go? YOU ALONE HAVE THE WORDS OF ETERNAL LIFE.” Jesus, in today’s Gospel reading, asks His disciples one of the most important questions: “DO YOU ALSO WANT TO LEAVE?” This is a question that every generation of believers and disciples has had to face at one time or another. And this question is also being addressed to each one of us: “DO YOU ALSO WANT TO LEAVE?”
Some, in fact, have gone away – or to be more specific, have left the Church some of the reasons could be:
- Some have found the message of Jesus TOO HARD TO TAKE, HARD TO SWALLOW, TOO UNREALISTIC. Christ’s teaching on forgiveness, love of enemies, denying oneself, taking up one’s cross. JUST TOO HARD! His words about humility, fidelity, chastity, honesty, meekness, trust in the Divine Providence. THEY ALL SOUND GOOD, BUT THEY DO NOT HOLD UP TOO WELL IN THE WORLD TODAY.
- Some have found Jesus’ message beautiful, compelling and lofty, BUT COULD FIND NO ONE WHO PRACTICED IT.
- Some liked Jesus BUT COULDN’T STAND HIS CHURCH. They couldn’t take the teaching of the Church on FAMILY PLANNING AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH, SAME-SEX MARRIAGE, ABORTION, EUTHANASIA OR MERCY KILLING.
- Some left because they wanted “A CHURCH OF ALL SAINTS”, but got a BUNCH OF SINNERS INSTEAD.
- And some wanted “A CHURCH OF SINNERS” – more congenial – BUT BOTHERED BY THE SAINTS.
- Some left because they wanted THE CHURCH TO BE A “CHURCH OF RULES”, since rules brought security. It is clear where everyone stands: white is white, black is black, good is good, sin is sin – THERE IS NO NEUTRAL GROUND.
- Some have been attracted away from the Church BY FALSE GODS. The false gods of WEALTH, POWER, INFLUENCE, PRESTIGE, HONOR, POPULARITY AND VAINGLORY, THE FALSE GODS OF MATERIALISM AND CONSUMERISM, OF PLEASURE AND WORLDLY ENTERTAINMENT.
Whatever the reasons, they left the Church. Whatever it is, they left BECAUSE SOMETHING DISAPPOINTED THEM. Perhaps it was just too hard for them to take.
Where and How do you find yourselves in the groups just mentioned? How do you answer Jesus’ question: “WILL YOU ALSO GO AWAY?” My dear brothers and sisters, may we respond to the right question of Jesus: “MASTER, TO WHOM SHALL WE GO? YOU HAVE THE WORDS OF ETERNAL LIFE”. Here we need a firm commitment.
Commitment means “TO BRING, JOIN OR TO COMBINE INTO ONE WHOLE; TO JOIN OR PUT TOGETHER, TO CONNECT OR TO UNITE”. Commitment means we have to find the person or the thing that will make us whole. It is obvious enough that half of what we must join or bring together is OURSELVES. A large part of any commitment must be the GIFT OF MYSELF. The philosophers call this part of commitment ‘SELF-DONATION”. I am at least half of the definition of commitment, for basically, the commitment is what I bring to it. Many people fail in commitments because they don’t bring anything to the commitment. They only want to take, but they don’t want to give.
A deeper commitment means the donation or the giving of my deeper self. In the deepest kind of commitment, I literally ‘DWELL IN” THE OTHER, AND THE OTHER “DWELLS IN” ME. Commitment means to bring together, to connect, and to unite. Christ was committed to the Father, He could truly say “I AND THE FATHER ARE ONE.” And St. Paul could say: “Now I live now not I, but Christ lives in me”. This is because St. Paul was committed to Christ. Every day we make decisions – minor and major ones. We are always making decisions. FAITH CALLS US TO A VERY IMPORTANT DECISIONS: TO CHOOSE GOD OR TO WALK AWAY FROM GOD.
In the Gospel, Peter faces making a decision about Christ. Many of Jesus’ disciples remark that His saying is hard and unacceptable. Many disciples turned away from Jesus, went back to their former way of life and no longer followed Jesus. But Simon Peter, the rock of faith, speaks for the apostles. Peter says, “MASTER, TO WHOM SHALL WE GO? YOU HAVE THE WORDS OF ETERNAL LIFE.” Peter believes. He chooses to believe in Christ. That’s the decision called for. It is an important decision: CHOOSE CHRIST OR WALK AWAY FROM CHRIST. Choose God or walk away from God. Each one of is called to choose Christ.