“Communicating hope and trust in our time.”

- Pope Francis

‘Words of eternan life’: are you an eagle or a chicken?

TWENY-FIRST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR B

Joshua 24:1-2, 15-17, 18
Ephesians 5:21-32
John 6:60-69

Every day we make decisions, big and small. Shall I wake up at 4 AM or 4:30 AM? Shall I go to Mass? Should I attend the acquaintance party? And so on. Even not deciding is already a decision in itself. Many of our decisions actually involve our choosing God and his ways or not. When a pregnant girl is faced with deciding to abort her unborn baby or not, we know she knows by instinct which choice brings her closer to God or farther away from him.

Joshua in our first reading and Jesus in our gospel confront his people and ask them to come to a decision. Joshua asks his fellow Israelites to choose which god to follow. Some of those he speaks to did not experience the liberation wonders because they were already in the land of promise before the liberated Jews came. They worshipped El-Berith. But when Joshua tells them, “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord”, they are swayed by his example to also choose the God of Israel. Leaders don’t lead simply by words but by example. Which is why we must take careful watch over the choices we make and the acts we do whether they reflect our choices or contradict them. Jesus, in a far dramatic way, sees people deserting him because they think his teachings are hard. This is especially so when they heard him say that unless they eat his flesh and drink his blood, they have no life in them. Jesus confronts his disciples, “Will you also leave me?” Peter’s decision represents–or should represent– ours. “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe; we are convinced that you are God’s Holy One.”

The first pope says the main reason why you and I are Christians: Only Jesus can lead us to eternal life. Sorry to followers of other world religions. But this is the truth on which we Christians must make a stand. If it simply concerns social or cultural matters, it matters little which religion someone embraces. But when it comes to where we spend our eternity, only Jesus Christ, as Peter the apostle expresses our conviction, has it. Commit ourselves to him, we must. Do you know why the word “chicken” connotes indecisiveness?

Legend has it that when the eagle and the chicken were made to choose to fly high to the skies, the chicken chose to fly close to earth while the eagle chose to fly close to the heavens. So are you (and I) an eagle or a chicken?

The first Catholic US President, John F. Kennedy, once said: “The stories of past courage can define the ingredient, they can teach, they can offer hope, they can provide inspiration. But they cannot supply courage itself. For this each man must look into his own soul.”

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