August 22, 2021 Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Welcome Father Mathew Today’s Readings: Jos 24:1-2a, 15-17, 18b | Eph 5:21-32 | Jn 6:60-69

###Jesus the Word of Life

Last Sunday we celebrated the Feast of the Assumption of Mary. Today we continue the conversation that Jesus is having with the people about his claim to be the Bread of Life that has come down from heaven. As the conversation continues, so too does the conflict and their complaining. The gospel begins straight away with this; ‘When many of disciples heard this, they said, ‘This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?’ It is worth noting that among those who are complaining and beginning to reject Jesus are not just strangers or the religious leaders but his disciples, his closest friends and followers.

The choice to follow Jesus is never easy. At the beginning of his public ministry, Jesus began to call people with these words, ‘Those who want to come with me, must forget themselves, take up their cross and follow me.’ There is no small print or hidden clause in what Jesus is asking us or what he is offering us. He is very clear and direct in what he says in the gospel and in what he is saying to us today. The reaction and response of the crowd is equally clear and honest; ‘This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?’

Many listening cannot accept the teaching of Jesus, so they walk away from him. Just as with those in the gospel, Jesus freely and honestly invites us to follow him. And, like those in the gospel, we too are free to either reject or accept this call from him. In the gospel some leave Jesus. He both respects and accepts their decision; he lets them go and does not run after them and beg them to stay. He does not water down his teaching in favour of the crowd or popularity. He stands by his teaching and does not alter it. So confident is he in himself and his message that Jesus even asks his apostles, ‘Do you also want to go away?’ The apostles exercise their freedom by choosing to stay with Jesus and follow him. It is Peter, acting as voice of the group who exclaims, ‘Lord to whom would we go? You have words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.’

Those who stay with Jesus in the gospel do what you and I are called to do: keep on choosing Jesus, remain with the one who not only has the message of eternal life, but who is the Word of Life.

If we accept this challenging call and invitation from Jesus, then we are also asked to accept the responsibilities with which it comes. When Jesus asks us to follow him, he never says that it will be easy. Following Jesus also means that we live our own daily life trying to put his message into practise as best we can. We are asked to love each other as he loves us, to serve each other as he has shown us and crucially to forgive others as he forgives us. He even asks to love our enemies, those we find it difficult to even like.

Today, may we have the courage and faith to pray; ‘Lord to whom would we go? You have words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.’

Source of reflection: Br. Michael Moore OMI, Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Source of image: Rachel Titiriga, []