What About You, Do You Want To Go Away Too?

A Reflection for 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year B).
Joshua 24:1-2a, 15 -17, 18b – Ephesians 5:21-32 – John 6:60-69.

At various occasions in life, aren’t we required to make decisions, regardless of how tough they can be? Realizing that we live by whatever decision we make during such occasions and the influence it can cause seems to add fuel to the fire. Again, think about how you feel when an instant decision needs to be made on particular circumstances. Was it that easy? I would guess not. These thoughts help us channel our minds to the various situations in the First Reading and in the Gospel Reading of today.

The old Joshua was worried. Seeing how his people could be misled by the teaching and practices of the Amorites, he wondered, as their leader, if they would continue to keep the covenant of God when he is gone. In his worry, he summoned them and dared them to recommit themselves to the service of God. He made his stand point-blank: choose today whom you will serve…as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. This declaration by Joshua helped to calm his troubled mind, and inspired the people to make their own decision to be with God. In so doing, he rededicated his household and the whole house of Israel to God. We too will serve the Lord, for he is our God, the people said. They chose to stick to the plan, to be with God.

In the Gospel, the people following Jesus and listening to him were thrown off balance by our Lord’s teaching of Himself as the bread of life. Recall that in the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus’ teaching met with a series of oppositions. An interesting point to note about these oppositions is that they
began with the Jews (John 6:41.52) but ended with Jesus’ own disciples (John 6:60.66). After hearing his doctrine, many of the followers of Jesus said: this is intolerable language (John 6:60). As it is always said, a man’s greatest enemies are those of his own household. Yes, it can be much easier to withstand pressures from outside than from within.

Those disciples, like the people of Israel in the First Reading, needed to take a stand. And they did. Many of them left him. Then, Jesus turned to his close followers, the twelve: what about you, do you want to go away too? Peter, the one regarded as the spokesperson of the apostles, in a declaration similar to Joshua’s, said to Jesus: to whom shall we go? You have the message of eternal life. These declarations can inspire us in the midst of social pressures today, and to help us recognize that in Jesus, our doubts are cleared and our fears are calmed.

Gary once slipped and fell over a cliff during his usual early morning run. He was, however, lucky enough to grab a protruding stone as he fell. The cliff was about a hundred feet high, and there was no way he could have made it out without external aid. In agony and out of fear, he cried out for help: is there someone out there? No answer came for a time. He shouted all the louder the second time. After a few short moments of silence, a voice came thundering out from the blue: This is the Lord. Frantically, Gary said: well, if you are the Lord, make hurry up and rescue me. After another brief moment of silence, the voice came back: let go of the stone, and I will come and save you. Again, there were some moments of dead silence. Convincing himself that that wasn’t the voice he needed at that time, Gary cried out the third time: okay then, is there anybody else please?

Ask yourself, if you will: Why must the Lord tell Gary to let go of the only thing holding him up in order to be saved? What would I do if I was Gary; would I let go or hold on? Would I rather hold unto my opinions and ideas rather than being totally submissive to what the Lord tells me? Let us therefore together recommit ourselves to God, allowing Him to direct us in all we do with a firm trust that He never lets us down.