Cortez: The choice is ours to make: Reflection on the 21st Sunday in ordinary time

CHRISTIAN life is about making choices. A Christian may choose to continue serving God and forsake evil, or serve evil and forsake God. This is the theme of this Sunday’s first reading and the gospel.

In the First Reading (Joshua 24:1-2, 15-18), Joshua presented the Israelites with a choice---to serve God who has been faithful to them from the time of their ancestors, their liberation from slavery in Egypt, their journey through the desert and their entry into the Promised Land, or to serve the foreign gods of the nations that surrounded them.

In the gospel (John 6:60-69), Jesus, too, presented his apostles a choice---to turn their backs on him like the many disciples who could not accept the hard teaching on the bread of life, or to stay with him no matter what.

On both occasions, those asked made the right decisions. The Israelites decided to put away their foreign gods and incline their hearts to the LORD. The apostles, on the other hand, decided not to leave the LORD.

Their faith in him was professed by Peter who said, “LORD, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Like the Israelites of the Old Testament and the apostles of the New Testament, we too are confronted with a choice.

Are we going to forsake our worldly idols and worship the one, true God, or are we going to cling to the things and people we value so much, so much so that we allow them to take the supreme place of God in our lives?

In the face of the hard teachings of Jesus---teachings like the Eucharist which appear so irrational by conventional human wisdom yet most rational in the perfect Divine will---are we going to leave God, or will we remain on his side and allow him to increase our faith?

The decision is ours to make. Although we were merely created by God, he gave us the free will to decide. To those who decide to accept Jesus and believe in his name, he gives the power to become children of God (John 1:12), but whoever does not believe has already been condemned (John 3:18b).

God will repay everyone according to his works---eternal life to those who seek glory, honor and immortality through perseverance and good works, but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth and obey wickedness (Romans 2:6-8).

In our choices, let us remember that our God is a God of justice, but let us not also forget that he is at the same time a God of mercy--- ready to forgive, willing to cancel our debts, and longing to give us a glimpse of eternity even while still here on earth … if we only repent and call on the name of Jesus, his only begotten Son.

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