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Homily (Reflection) for the Twenty-First Sunday of the Year (B) (26th August, 2018) on the Gospel

Josh 24:1-2.15-18;
Ps 33:2-3.16-23 (R. V. 9);
Eph 5:21-32;
Jn 6: 60-69.

A young girl in her teens who dropped out of school in Senior Secondary School 1 (SSS1) approached a priest with her intention to go back to school at least to complete her secondary education but was financially handicapped. Moved with pity, the priest decided to assist her actualize her dream. Plans were already in the advanced stage for her to go back to school when she told the priest that she was no longer interested in going back to school but would like to register for Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination in one of the centres where different forms of examination malpractice are institutionalized. Hence, “good results” are assured provided one can afford the bill. And students continually leave schools where there is insistence on hard work to those organised crime-centres even sometimes on the advice, approval, cooperation, or even insistence of the parents. Efforts to dissuade her were futile. The priest even visited her parents to see if they could help convince their daughter to go back to school but their reactions especially that of the mother showed they were solidly behind their daughter’s decision.
 Topic: Wants to leave?
Last Sunday, on hearing of Jesus’ offer of His Flesh and Blood as real food and drink for all who wants to have eternal life (cf. Jn 6:51), the people complained: “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” (Jn 6:52). And Jesus emphasized:
Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink (Jn 6:53-55).
These words of Jesus among others (cf. Jn 6: 56 – 58) made most of His disciples say in today’s gospel: “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” (Jn 6:60). And Jesus being aware of their complaints goes on to teach:
Does this offend you? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But among you there are some who do not believe (Jn 6:61-64).
Jesus insistence on His Father’s will (cf. Jn 4:34; 5:30; 6:38, 39) ‘caused’ Him most of the disciples He had gathered around Himself; “Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him” (Jn6:66). Consequent upon this, one would have expected Jesus to either plead with those leaving not to or changed His teaching to suit them but He even turned to the remaining ones (the twelve) and asked: “Do you also wish to go away?” (Jn 6:67).
Jesus came into the world to do the will of He who sent Him, cf. Jn 6:38 and the sum of God’s word is truth; and every one of His righteous ordinances endures forever, cf. Ps 119:160. In the gospel according to Saint John, Jesus while praying for His disciples said: “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (Jn 17:17). Again, Jesus also admonished us in these words: “Let what you say be simply 'Yes' or 'No'; anything more than this comes from evil” (Matt 5:37). And again, in Saint Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians we read:
Was I vacillating when I wanted to do this? Do I make my plans according to ordinary human standards, ready to say ‘Yes, yes’ and ‘No, no’ at the same time? As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been ‘Yes and No.’ For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not ‘Yes and No’ .... (2Cor 1:17-19).
Today whether the ministers of the Word and sacraments proclaim their own words in place of God’s for their own selfish interests calls for serious reflection. According to Saint Paul, people who teach what they should not for their own selfish interests should be silenced, cf. Tit 1:11. Sometimes we tend to forget “If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” (Lk 14:26). No one deserves the name, God’s minister, who does not place God’s interest first in all things.
Proclaim God’s message in charity. Proclaim the truth and not falsehood, cf. Eph 4:25. As we struggle to convert others, care must be taken to be converted first so as not to mislead others. Those who teach others “shall be judged with greater strictness” (Jas 3:1).
As you jump from one church to another, what do we seek? Remember, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings...” (Heb 13:8-9; cf. Eph 5:6). To Jesus’ question Peter wonderfully replied: “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God” (Jn 6:68-69). Ministers and lay faithful must have faith as strong as this to be able to serve God because “... without faith it is impossible to please him. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Heb 11:6). The young girl in our introductory story wanted to have certificate without studying for it. Do you want to have Christ without following His footsteps? Remember in a corrupt world like ours, a lot of anomalies are possible but not with God. Whoever wants Christ must follow Him, cf. Lk 9:23.
Bible Reading: 2Cor 4:16-5:10; Heb 11; Jas 2:14-26; Gal 2:15-21; Rom 3:21-31; 1Jn 2:18-28.
Thought for today: Face-to-face with difficult situation, what do you do – struggle to understand and solve the problem or take to your heels?
Let us pray: God, our Father and source of faith, may we always and everywhere manifest our faith especially in difficult moments – Amen.
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