YEAR B: HOMILY/REFLECTION FOR THE 21ST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
TOPIC: FIX OUR GAZE ON JESUS
BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
Gospel: Jn 6:60-69
Message # 108: “Your Queen and Your Leader”
1.The Marian Message
a. The Church celebrated the Feast of the Queenship of Mary last Wednesday, August 22. This feast was first instituted by Pope Pius XII and was formerly celebrated on May 31. It is now observed as a memorial rather than a major feast on this day, August 22, which is the octave of the Solemnity of the Assumption (August 15). The two feasts are connected by the traditional belief that, after her Assumption into heaven, Mary was crowned as Queen of heaven. Both feasts are meditated upon in the Glorious Mysteries of the Holy Rosary.
b. Mary is our Queen: “It is my universal royalty: Mother of the Son, Queen with the Son” (letter d). Her Queenship is always with and in view of her Son, Jesus, who is the Eternal King. In the culture of the Middle East, the legitimate queen is the mother of the king, and not the wife. This is because of the culture and practice of polygamy. The king ordinarily has two or more wives, and they all cannot be queens. So, the mother of the king is the only recognized queen of the kingdom.
c. As our Queen, she is also our Leader (letter f). And she calls all her children to obey and follow her as our leader, and no one else. She demands obedience and docility from us (letters k, l and m).
d. In concrete terms, she asks us to obey the Pope through whom she will give her orders: “I will give my orders through the voice of him whom my Son has appointed to govern his Church: the Pope with the hierarchy united to him” (letter n).
e. She is saddened and deeply hurt by the fact that many bishops and priests do not anymore obey the Pope, the Vicar of Christ (letter o). Those who disobey the Pope are victims of Satan who has succeeded in misleading and deceiving them into errors, which have led so many people astray (letters r, s, t and u).
f. She urges all priests to be prudent, attentive and enlightened in these times of darkness engulfing the world (letter v). And she appeals to them to return “to love, obedience and communion with the Pope” (letter B). This is the only way to belong to her army, of which she is the Queen and Leader (letter C), and the only way to sure and final victory (letter D). (N.B. This message was given during the pontificate of Pope St. John Paul II)
2. The Sunday Gospel
a. This is the last part of the Gospel series of five Sundays, which deals on the Bread of Life Discourse of Jesus. Last Sunday was the climax of the confrontation with the Jewish audience. This Sunday is the resolution of the whole affair. Many listeners of Jesus, including many of his own disciples, could not take the message anymore: “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” (v. 60).
b. Jesus was not at all bothered that they were complaining. He even asked them pointblank: “Does this shock you?” But still he clarified the issue once more. He was not trying to convert them into cannibals. He was referring to his Body and Blood in the spiritual sense. The bread and drink that he gives, his body and blood, is not for the nourishment of the body but for the feeding of the spirit: “The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (v. 63).
c. The teaching on the Eucharist was used by Jesus as a test of allegiance of his listeners. By their reactions, he could see right through their hearts: “But there are some of you who do not believe” (v. 64). And the evangelist adds his own observation: “Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him” (v. 65). In other words, the reactions of his listeners came as no surprise to him. He continued with what he had to say, whether they like it or not. He has come to proclaim the truth, and not to say what his listeners wanted to hear. And through this teaching, the hearts of his disciples were revealed: “As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him” (v. 66).
d. Jesus was undaunted with this development. Seeing his disciples leaving him did not bother and worry him. He did not change his message just because they did not like it. He did not prevent them from leaving. Rather, he even challenged his apostles who remained with him: “Do you also want to leave?” (v. 67). As proof of their faith and loyalty to Jesus, they did not budge, but expressed their solid faith through the mouth of Peter: “Lord, 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” (vv. 68-69).
3. Points for Reflection
a. In Baptism, we shared in the prophetic mission of Jesus. A prophet is the spokesperson of God. He speaks what God tells him to speak to His people, whether they like it or not. That is why all the prophets were killed by the very people they were sent to evangelize. This also happened to Jesus, for, after all, he is the prophet par excellence. Before, God spoke through His prophets; but now, in the appointed time, God spoke through His Son, Jesus. Since we share in the prophetic mission of Jesus, we are also prophets: we are expected to speak what God wants to tell His people. But many times we choose not to speak up because we are afraid that the people might not agree with what we say, and they might turn against us. It is like a priest who has two sets of homilies every Sunday: one for the ordinary parishioners, and another for the big shots of the parish, the rich and the powerful. As expected, his homily for the latter is more subdued and risk-free. After all, it is not good to hurt the sensitivities of the big donors of the parish. But this is not being prophetic. The words of Jesus, as St. Paul said, must be proclaimed in season and out of season. We must speak what God wants us to speak, and not what the people want to hear. That is true evangelization.
b. The problem with many Christians nowadays is that many would like to take the Gospel, not as a whole, but piece by piece. They only choose the teachings of Jesus that are beneficial to them. But those teachings, which demand sacrifice, detachment from sin and pleasure, and serving others, they would promptly ignore. This explains the phenomenal success of the TV evangelists. They are proclaiming the “Prosperity Gospel.” They do not talk about the cross and about sacrifice. They always dwell on the material blessings that Jesus promised: “siksisk, liglig at umaapaw.” As expected, this kind of message is attractive to many Christians who are worldly and selfish. This is precisely what happened with the Jewish listeners of Jesus. They were so glad and enthusiastic in following Jesus because he performed many miracles. He even fed them with bread, which he miraculously multiplied. And they did not try to hide their desire to make him king. They followed him wherever he went. But when he started talking about the cross, and especially about the Eucharist, they protested and said: “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” Then they just left him.
c. To have followed Jesus and then leave him is worse than not having followed Jesus at all. Many people do not follow Jesus due to many reasons. It could be that they have not heard about the Gospel, or they were born in a non- Christian environment. God will understand such people. They have not received the gift of faith yet. But what is worse is having become Christians already, but later on, rejected Jesus for any reason whatsoever. This is called apostasy. They have already received the gift of faith and known Jesus. Yet they turned their backs on Jesus. It is fundamental option against God. This was the case with the disciples of Jesus who left him: they “returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.”
Nowadays we witness massive apostasy in the world. Many people have already rejected Jesus altogether and changed religion, and even totally rejected God. There is a famous lady TV host- turned politician who became the mistress of another famous politician. Since she cannot marry him legally because his marriage with his legal wife cannot be declared null by the Church, she changed religion and became a Muslim. Islam allows polygamy. Now she is his legal wife. But they sent their children to a Catholic school. She changed religion just like changing clothes. And there are many examples of Catholics becoming members of Iglesia ni Manalo and other anti-Christ sects. There are also those who have become masons and atheists just to pursue their career or to ensure the success of their business enterprise.
Apostasy is a grave sin against faith. It is total rejection of God. How can God forgive a person who does not anymore believe in Him? The number of those committing apostasy is increasing every day, and this is why the Blessed Mother is hurting so much, seeing so many of her children marching down the road to eternal damnation.
d. Peter and the other apostles showed us the example of a strong faith. They were not affected by what they saw. Their eyes were focused on Jesus, not on the reactions of other people around. So, with Peter speaking in behalf of the group, they said: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of everlasting life.” In this world, we have to be very careful and prudent. Every day, we see so many things around us. They are meant to distract us and take our gaze away from Jesus. When that happens, we become easy victims of the deception and enticements of the evil one. People tend to make their judgment based on what they see being done by the many. Since many people are doing abortions, we tend to believe already that abortion is right. Since many are divorced, so we conclude that divorce is okay. Since gay “marriages” are now performed in many parts of the world, we say that homosexuality is already acceptable. The media is the very effective tool of the devil in deceiving people. We must always remember that the truth is not in the people, no matter how many they are, but in Jesus only.
The only way to remain on the right path is to focus on Jesus: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” Let us look on Jesus, and listen to his teachings. If a preacher, priest or even a bishop is saying something, which is not according to the teachings of Jesus and of the Church, we should not listen to him. The Blessed Mother warned us about this in her message this Sunday (refer to section 1, letter e).
e. The teaching on the Eucharist was used by Jesus to reveal the hearts of his disciples. They eventually left him because they could not accept this teaching. He also knew the heart of his betrayer, Judas Iscariot. And it was during the Last Supper that Judas completed his act of betrayal. He abandoned the Last Supper, the celebration of the Eucharist, and never took part in the sharing of the Body and Blood of Jesus. We have to examine our fidelity to and faith in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Any lingering doubt about it should be addressed and resolved the soonest. Otherwise, it will gradually weaken our faith and eventually end up in betrayal of Jesus and full-blown apostasy. 4. Closing: Recite this prayer together. Have a copy of this every time you go to Church. Prayer before Holy Communion (from the Byzantine Liturgy) O Lord, I believe and profess that you are truly Christ, the Son of the living God, who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the first. Accept me as a partaker in your mystical supper, O Son of God; for I will not reveal your mystery to your enemies, nor give you a kiss as did Judas, but like the thief I confess to you: Remember me, O Lord, when you shall come into your kingdom. Remember me, O Master, when you shall come into your kingdom. Remember me, O Holy One, when you shall come into your kingdom.
May the partaking of your holy mysteries, O Lord, be not for my judgment or condemnation, but for the healing of soul and body. O Lord, I also believe and profess that this, which I am about to receive, is truly your most precious Body and your life-giving Blood, which, I pray, make me worthy to receive for the remission of all my sins and for life everlasting. Amen.
QUESTIONS FOR SHARING IN THE B.E.C.
1. Ano ang dahilan kung bakit ang karamihan sa mga Katoliko ay nahihiya o natatakot magsalita at magturo tungkol sa Katolikong pananampalataya?
2. Sa tingin mo, mabuti ba o masama ang “Prosperity Gospel”?
3. Ano ang pinakamalakas na pwersa sa mundo na humahatak sa mga tao papalayo sa Diyos?