HOMILY FOR THE 21ST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – YEAR B
HOMILY THEME: … ” Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
BY: Fr. Clem C. Aladi
GOSPEL: JOHN 6:60-69.
_Are you also getting ready to leave: Christianity(Catholicism ) a choice and option, not a mandate._
My dearest children of God, may the name of the Lord be praised both now and forever Amen. The readings of today invite us to reconsider our choice as disciples to remain with the Christ and His Church or to leave Him. The *Christian life is a series of daily choices for God or against God, as we choose to live out or reject the truths He has revealed through His prophets in the Old Testament and especially through His Son Jesus in the New Testament. The fundamental choice we make determines how we live our lives, deciding whom we will serve.*
In the face of all the scandals and abuses rocking the Church, I know many of you are getting fade up and might be warming up to leave the church. Many left in the past as a result of Pentecostal influences for such individuals, the Church is not modern or fashionable to their liking. Her doctrines and teachings are inexplicable in the light of reason. Such was the same reason many of the disciples of Jesus left him in the gospel of today, because what He was saying about His body being the bread that came down from heaven and that whoever feeds on this bread will live forever, simply did not make sense to them. The Eucharist has been a subject of many theological controversies among many Pentecostal groups. Till today, the Catholic Church has remained firm and unequivocally defends, teaches and preaches the “Real Presence” of Christ in the Eucharist. You have a choice to believe it or not. But let me ask must every truth about religion makes sense to man/woman? If everything about God or Religion is subject to rational understanding where then is the place of “Faith” in our religious life. Why are people criticising and leaving the Church on account of her doctrines and tradition? If this Church has lasted for 2018 years with all her teachings and doctrine still intact in spite of all she went through during those persecution periods of her history, do you think, you will change them today?. Why are we being swept off by the wind of Pentecostalism that strives to make everything rational; relying solely on the Bible and interpreting it to suit personal ambitions and playing down on those aspects of religion that relied wholly on faith?
Are you also planning to leave because the Church and her ministers are suffering in this present generation? Are you worried about the scandals and abuses that are currently eclipsing the missionary spirit of the Church in the West and beclouding the minds of many with doubts about the authenticity of the church ministers( Catholic priesthood)? Whatever has happened is regrettable, the Pope has sincerely apologised on behalf on the Church to victims of abuses and urged us all to suffer together in prayer, fasting and penitence with those suffering abuses( the abusers and the abused) as members of one family of the Church of God. The Church is divinely instituted and entrusted to men chosen and set apart for God’s work. We all are also stakeholders in this missionary activity of the Church in our world today, so whatever happens is all our business it is not their business, it is not the Church of the Pope, Bishops Priests and Deacons ( the clergy) , it is the Church of us all ( clergy and laity) that is the more reason we suffer together when one or two amongst us has done wrong. In brotherly love and fraternity we rejoice with those who rejoice and suffer with those who suffer , that is what St Paul teaches us.( cf 1Cor 12:26). Let’s keep praying for the Church. One thing is sure; the gates of hell shall never prevail against it.( cf Matt 16:18).
Everyone comes to a point in their lives where they need to make a choice. Life is full of decisions and choices. That is the amazing thing about God, he created man and woman with free will. He gives us options, not orders, and has faith in us that we will make the right choices when the time comes. Whether you are purchasing a car, a house, starting a family, moving, starting or changing a career, deciding what to eat for dinner, what movie you are going to watch tonight, we all have decisions in our lives. Yes, some are bigger than others but God loves it when we are listening closely to His direction and we make righteous choices. This doesn’t come naturally for anyone, we all need a little help, a little guidance, and a whole lot of grace. What Choices are you making today to leave the Church or to stay with her? Most times you make a choice to leave a particular place to another because you think where you are going is better, but in the long run, you discover that you left the right place to the wrong place. *Peter and the Apostles were wise and faithful to discern that Jesus has the words of eternal life and they chose not to leave Him.* Do you think it will be a wise choice for you to leave this Church or this Christ that has the words of eternal life? you have to reconsider your choice and make a decision.
Joshua assembled and challenged the whole tribes of Israel at Shechem in the first reading to decide whom they will serve: either the living God of Israel or the gods of the Amorites in whose land they dwell. This Renewal of Covenant ceremony in Joshua chapter 24 reminds us that the Eucharist is a Covenant meal that calls for a decision of Faith. Today we are faced with similar decision to choose whom we shall serve. Like Joshua and His family, I have already chosen and dedicated myself to serve God in the Catholic Church no matter what happens I will die in the Lord and as a Catholic. It is all about the choice you and your family makes today. If you choose to leave the Church today like those Jews whose minds were not open to the truths of faith the choice is yours, but remember the Lord needs you, we all need you.
The second reading emphasizes the unity that must exist in the Body of Christ and the intimate relationship between Jesus and his followers. It also challenges the Ephesian Christians and us *to make the right choices in life and build Christian marriages on mutual respect and love, accepting each other’s’ rights and dignity.* Paul also uses the husband-wife relationship as an analogy to explain the close relationship between Christ and the Church. Paul reminds us that Jesus nourishes us, the members of his Church, through the Eucharist, making us His own Flesh and Blood, as husband and wife become one flesh.
Concluding His long Eucharistic discourse, today’s Gospel passage describes the various reactions of the people to Jesus’ claims. Jesus gives his twelve apostles the option of leaving him or staying with him. The apostles exercise their freedom of choice by choosing to stay with Jesus. In this Eucharistic celebration, we, too, are called to make a decision, profess our Faith in God’s Son and renew the Covenant ratified in Jesus’ life, death and Resurrection
Let us therefore as wise children of God make the right religious choices. *May the light of the Holy Spirit help us to discern the right choices to make in every aspect of our life. May our free will never lead us to sin but may it be used to choose all that will be pleasing to God.* _The choices you make in life define who you are and what you are going to become, so choose wisely._
I keep you and your family always in my prayers. Thanks for all your prayers and good wishes on my 5th anniversary in the priesthood. Keep me always in your prayers too.
Fr. Clem C. Aladi