Let Us Remain with Christ the Holy One of God
Readings: 1st: Jos 24, 1-2.15-18; Ps 33; 2nd: Eph 5, 21-32; Gos: Jn 6, 66-69
This brief reflection was written by Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico. He is the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canóvanas, and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. He was the chancellor of the Diocese of Fajardo Humacao, Puerto Rico. Fr. Canice is a member of the Academy of Homiletics. For more details and comments contact him at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.
On this twenty-first Sunday of ordinary time, the Church encourages us to always remain with Christ, the Holy One of God. At times, when we come to the crossroad of life, we are confused about which way to go. These are moments when we must make the right decisions, and the decisions and choices we make at such moments shape our future.
At a particular moment in my own life, I came to one of such crossroads of choosing between responding to God’s call and abandoning it. Thank God, the Holy Spirit gave me the illumination I needed to make the right choice.
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In today’s first reading, having almost come to the end of his mission, Joshua reminded Israel of how faithful and pleasing the Lord has been to them. Finally, he challenged them: “If you will not serve the Lord, choose today whom you wish to serve…” Their response was relatively rapid and positive: “We have no intention of deserting the Lord our God…”
Of course, as most of us do, they spoke well. Unfortunately, they did not keep their promise. As soon as Joshua was gone (Judges 1-12), they ran to other gods. The psalmist says: “Those who run to other gods multiply their sorrows” (Ps 16, 4). Indeed, they multiplied their sorrows through their own decision and choice.
In our second reading, Paul employs the analogy of marriage to explain and remind us of Christ’s relationship with His disciples. Paul describes this relationship as a mystery with many implications. It is a relationship based on a mutual love for one another.
Such a relationship is devoid of deceit. Instead, it is based on trust and faith. It is a relationship that endures the test of the time. It is different from what we see today in our society, where we get married in the morning and divorced by evening. Just as one cannot abandon oneself so, one must not abandon Christ, his Lord.
In today’s gospel, after the bread of life discourse, some followers of Christ were disappointed. What they heard was not what they expected to hear from Christ. This teaching is too difficult for us! You are complicating our lives! They could not take it anymore. For this reason, many of them abandoned Him.
So, turning to his disciples, Christ asked: “What about you, do you want to go away too?” This question from Christ is like Joshua’s. It leaves one with an option to remain with or to abandon Christ at challenging moments in life. It is like saying, if you too are not convinced and comfortable with this truth, you may also leave.
There are lots of lessons for us today. Many of us come to Christ thinking that everything must be easy. Some come with a very shallow faith. Yet, some of us come with fixed expectations and just to hear what we wish to hear. So, if our expectations are not met, we quit and bid Christ farewell. So, we must ask ourselves today. How many times have we abandoned God and his church, especially at difficult moments in life?
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Finally, there are inevitable moments in life when the authenticity of our faith and fidelity to God must be tested by the fire of afflictions (1 Pt 1:7). Then, only true disciples will stand with Christ to say: “Lord, to who shall we go? You have the word of eternal life. You are the Holy One of God.” Or, like Joshua said: “As for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord.” So, our song must always be: “I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back, no going back.”
Peace be with you!
Thank you Fr. Canice for this wonderfully inspiring and motivating reflection. I am still living to attest to your taking a decision to sacrifice juicy employment to serve God in this special vocation.
May the same God you have chosen continually sustain, guide, guard and protect you, through Christ our Lord.