YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE 21ST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: DECIDE TODAY
BY: REV. FR. ANSELM CHIGOZIE AMADI
JOS 24:1-2,15-17,18 EPH 5:21-32 JN6:60-69
Christianity is a religion of freedom of choice. Man was created a free moral agent and on the platform of his free will stands the logic of reward and punishment for his actions. Animals are said to be “hardwired”, they are so to say, not responsible for their actions.
Today, both Joshua and Jesus reaffirm the freedom of choice as a fundamental religious ‘right’ of man, who, inturn bears the consequences of his choice, good or bad.
NATIONAL ASSEMBLY AT SCHECHEM
Joshua gathered the national assembly of Israel at Schechem, to renew ( if they choose) their Covenant with God. It is worthy of note that Schechem was the place God appeared to Abraham, the place he promised that his decendants will inherit the land, and the place the first altar was built (Gen 12:6-7). Going to Schechem was like going back to the root. It was like tracing the original path from long strayed trekking. It was a reassessment of national course of action and reaffirmation of terms of the Covenant. It was a decision to serve the Lord alone, as against all forms of deviations.
As the Israelites vowed to serve the Lord alone, the generation of Christ’s ministry took to a strange religion: the religion of bread, while rejecting the bread of life. Those who practice the religion of bread follow only the ‘Jesus’ that solves material problems of hunger and starvation. They hunger after the gospel of open doors and breakthrough, while shutting the doors of their hearts against the spiritual guest who stands knocking (Rev. 3:20). They place material provision and solution above the message of salvation: what a false religion!!!
In the bread of life discourse, (JN6), Jesus started with the multiplication of loaves. This attracted a great crowd, who acclaimed him the prophet (JN6:14), moved to crown him a king (v. 15) and set out in frantic search for him the very next day (v.24). When, however, he introduced the bread of life theology, they rejected him. Religion of bread adherents abandon the Eucharistic Jesus in search of the popular “Adoration Centers”. Jesus was popular for material bread supplies but was rejected for the message of eternal life. What a strange devotion!
Many followers of Jesus today, who search for him solely for their desperate needs certainly will hear him in their misguided enthusiasm : “I assure you, you are not looking for me because you saw signs but because have eaten your fill of the loaves. You should not work for perishable food, but food that remains unto eternal life”. Decide today whom you will serve, the bread or the giver. Decide today the message you will choose, the message of eternal life or that of material wellbeing.
A WORD FOR THE PREACHER
When Jesus Christ lost his popularity and witnessed a great deal of defection from his former ‘fans’ (not believers) on account of the Word, he insisted and challenged believers’ faith on the Word. He did not compromise the Word for popularity. Today many preachers have sold the Word to gain popularity. Their ministry falls outside the scope of Christ’s and their message far from the gospel. A message of compromise can only disguise as the gospel but it is not. The gospel is the message of eternal life, not material wellbeing. It aims at salvation not solution.
A WORD FOR THE AUDIENCE
People declined from following Jesus because he taught a hard doctrine. It was too hard for them because they sought for the material not the spiritual. It is understandable because the “Words are spirit and life”, food for the soul not the flesh. In the face of the raging “born again” defections that characterise our time, it is fitting for us to answer the fundamental question of faith: “what are you looking for ? (Jn1:
38). If the answer disagrees with that of psalm 27:4-5, “one think I ask of the Lord, this I seek, to dwell in the house of the Lord…. “, then the mark is missed.
The act of defection that ensued from the hard teaching of Jesus continues till date. People have taken to religious prostitution in their search for better life. The bad news is that the easiest way is not always the good way. The same question remains relevant : what are you looking for? It only the narrow way that leads to life. The broad way ends in perdition. Let us decide today to
return to Schechem and discover the fundamental and original terms of our relationship with God. Let us trace our way back to the root. We have strayed.