August 23, 2009
Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
Many of Jesus' disciples who were listening said, "This saying is hard; who can accept it?" Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, "Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe." Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. And he said, "For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father." As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, "Do you also want to leave?" Simon Peter answered him, "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God."
Introductory Prayer: I believe in you my God. You called me into existence from nothingness and carefully watch over me. You have even numbered the hairs of my head. I trust in your infinite goodness and I abandon my fears, my hopes, my needs, my desires, everything into your loving hands. I love you Lord, and wish to love you with all my mind, heart, soul and strength.
Petition: Lord Jesus, help me to make you the center of my life.
1. “Does This Shock You?”
Jesus never painted the picture of a rosy, comfortable life for his disciples – one that fit into their scheme of things. Rather he challenged them to new heights that demanded a paradigm shift. We don’t have to search hard or look far to find groups that demand that the Church change its teaching, which they characterize as “too hard” or “old fashioned.” But Christ’s Mystical Body remains faithful in fearlessly proclaiming truth. Christ also asks me today, “Does this shock you? Do you also want to leave?” He asks me to humbly submit to the Church’s teachings. He challenges me to heroically give witness to my faith in my state in life, even if it will result in ridicule or rejection from my colleagues or friends. He lovingly exhorts me not to return to a life of sin. He invites me to carry my cross daily by denying my pride and self-love to follow him.
2. “No One Can Come to Me…”
Using the words of St Peter we ask, “Then who can be saved?” (Luke 18:26). Jesus tells us that God the Father has prepared the hearts of men to receive his Son. God has set a time and place for everyone. When and how he calls is as mysterious as his infinite love for us. Yet, for better or for worse, through good times or bad, in sickness and in health, our acceptance of the Son of God must be constant, persevering and faithful. If God the Father enables me to believe in and proclaim Jesus Christ as the Messiah, to believe in his presence in the Eucharist, to trust in his forgiveness in confession, then what more do I need?
3. “Master, to Whom Shall We Go?”
Only truth is able to quench the thirst of our intellect. Only the Source of Life and Goodness is able to satisfy the continuous desire of our will. Only the sacrificial Lamb of God, who shed his blood to save us, is able to liberate me from the chains of sin. Only love is able to conquer my heart and fill it with unending joy. To whom could we possibly turn? To what creature, idea, or worldly treasure could we long for in the face of eternal life? Peter’s question is really an affirmation in disguise: You are the “One and Only;” there is no other, no equal. It is not a mindless remark or a default logical conclusion. Rather it emerges from positively recognizing Christ as the bearer of eternal life.
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, grant me the grace to humbly accept the Gospel and the faith to embrace it with love, especially when it is humanly tough to accept. Let me join in the response: “We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:69).
Resolution: Through my words and deeds, I will resonate my faith to all those I come in contact with today.
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