This Sunday is the twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time. The readings remind us that our lives are a series of daily choices for or against God. We choose to live out or reject the truths God has revealed through His holy men and women in the Old Testament and finally, as Paul puts it, when the fullness of time had come, through His Son Jesus. This reminds us that the choices we make determine how we live our lives.
Joshua, in our first reading, and Paul, in the second reading, make similar challenges to the people to make choices. Today we, too, are challenged to decide whom we will serve. In the first reading, Joshua challenges the Israelites to decide whom they will serve, the gods of their fathers, the gods of the Amorites in whose country they were then dwelling, or the God of the Israelites Who had done so much for them. The people, when they encountered hardships, chose to follow other gods, gods of their own making, and forgot the true God, but not Joshua. He remained faithful to God and said, “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Paul, in the second reading, emphasizes the unity that must exist in the Body of Christ and the intimate relationship between Jesus and His followers. The reading also challenges the Ephesians to build Christian marriages based upon mutual respect and love. Paul says that husband and wife should stand together in love before God, respecting each other’s rights and dignity. He also uses the husband-wife relationship as an analogy to explain the close relationship between Christ and the Church. That is why he urges the community in Ephesus, “Live in love, as Christ has loved us.” He wants them to make the right choices in life and to remain faithful to the covenant of marriage.
Today’s Gospel concludes Jesus’ discourse on the Bread of Life. Jesus challenges the people to make their choice of accepting the New Covenant He offers in his Body and Blood or of joining those who have lost their Faith in Him and left Him, expressing their confusion and doubts about His claims. The Gospel describes the various reactions of the people to Jesus’ claims. Just as Joshua spoke to his followers, Jesus speaks to the twelve apostles and gives them the option of leaving or staying with Him. The disciples cannot reject or leave Jesus because of their knowledge and experience of Him as the Bread of Life. Peter, on behalf of the disciples said, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” This is to say, they cannot turn to anyone else because Jesus has the words of eternal life. The apostles exercised their freedom of choice by choosing to stay with Jesus like Joshua in the first reading. In the Eucharistic celebration, we, like Peter, are called to make a decision, to profess our Faith in God’s Son and renew the Covenant ratified in His life, death, and Resurrection.
This conclusion of the Bread of Life discourse focuses on personal faith in the life of Christian discipleship. Each person must make his or her own judgment about who Jesus is. In doing so, we determine the way of life that each of us will follow. God’s grace invites us to be Jesus’ disciples, but each person must respond to the grace of God and confess as his or her own the belief that Jesus is the One from God, sent by the Father for our salvation and the salvation of the world. This faith then commits us to the path of life, leading us to life everlasting—eternal life.
The very option or possibility of choosing for or against Jesus is repeated over and over again in the modern age. We should resolve to take a stand for Jesus and be ready to accept the consequences. We recognize, in our going to Communion, the accepting of that challenge to be totally one with Jesus. When we receive Holy Communion the minister says, “The Body of Christ,” and we respond, “Amen.” That “Amen,” that “Yes,” is not just an act of faith in the Real Presence; it is a total commitment of ourselves to Jesus in the community of which we are members. We must accept Him totally, without any conditions or reservations. Christ’s thoughts and attitudes, His values, His life-view must become totally ours, and must govern and shape our lives. Above all, we are to identify with Him in the offering of His Flesh and the pouring out of His Blood on the cross, the symbol of God’s unconditional love for us.
The horrific incidents being reported from Pennsylvania last week about the abuse of minors by priests are sickening. It is more important than ever to pray for the victims of these inexcusable acts. I want you all to know that we as a parish and school take all the precautionary measures to ensure our children are safe from any type of abuse. Please know that you can contact me at any time about this matter. We have also made it a priority to publish monthly the information of the person at the Diocese where any incidents of sexual abuse by a priest, teacher, or volunteer can be reported, we will now publish that information weekly. Please see the message from Pope Francis and our Bishop McElroy on our parish website at: http://www.santasophia.org/message-from-pope-frances. You may also see the diocesan website at: https://www.sdcatholic.org/default.aspx
I am pleased to give you an update on our roofing project. The roofers have completed installing shingles and have completed the flat roof on both sides of the church. The air conditioning company has connected the air conditioning on the north side of the church, and it is working. The crew is presently working on the air conditioning on the south side of the church. Hopefully, they should be able to connect it soon. Again, thank you for your patience and support for our roofing project.