OUR FREEDOM FOR CHRIST
"To whom shall we go?"
21st SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR B
Whether consciously or unconsciously, we make choices every day of our lives. When we wake up in the morning, we make a choice whether to rise up or not; to brush your teeth or not; to comb your hair or not; to go to work or not; to go to Mass or not. Choices, though little as they may seem, could speak a lot about us as they determine our way of acting and living. But, how about in situations where our faith is being tested or challenged?
Hear this case: You were in the restaurant with your dad and at the time when the check was given to you, you realized that there was an entree that was not included in the check. Should you go tell the waiter of the exclusion or error in the bill or should you simply let it go since it was an "honest mistake?"
How we respond to this question speak a lot about our way of exercising our freedom, and more importantly, it could speak about our identity as CHRISTIANS – disciples or followers of Christ. Whatever we choose, we are confident that we do so in faith that it is the right thing to do.
This Sunday, as we culminate the Bread of Life discourse, Jesus reminds us that Christian Life is a series of daily choices to be for HIM of against HIM. We could either follow Him as our source of TRUTH or simply reject Him in confusion and doubt. Our basic choices determine how we are to live our lives and to decide whom we are to serve. Choices which MUST be decided with a freedom that’s AUTHENTIC. Let me point out some thoughts to this:
1. It has to be a choice FOR Christ and NOT simply FOR US. We have already acknowledged Jesus as our SUPER FOOD – our source of spiritual strength and daily nourishment through the Eucharist. The Bread of Life is that which fortifies us to overcome any forms of obstacles that come along our way. It is so great that even to the point of social isolation, we can hold on to it and still remain steadfast in our faith. Hear this story:
A group of Christians gathered for a secret prayer meeting in Russia, at the height of the persecution of all Christian Churches. Suddenly, the door was broken by the boot of a soldier. He entered the room and faced the people with a gun in his hand. They all feared the worst. He spoke: “If there’s anyone who doesn’t really believe in Jesus, then, get out now while you have the chance.” There was a rush to the door. A small group remained – those who had committed themselves to Jesus, and who were never prepared to run from him. The soldier closed the door after the others, and once again, he stood in front of those who remained, gun poised. Finally, a smile appeared on his face, as he turned to leave the room, and he whispered, “Actually, I believe in Jesus too, and you’re much better off without those others.” (Jack McArdle)
This story sounds more like some of Jesus’ disciples in today’s Gospel. They ran away as they could not understand and accept Jesus’ teachings especially when He said, “You can EAT my flesh and DRINK my blood.” (We heard from the Gospel of last Sunday) But why CHOOSE Jesus? Because we have been created to LOVE and Jesus is the ultimate expression of such love. If we choose Christ, we are assured of a relationship built on such love. Otherwise, we simply claim our independence away from the love of Christ.
2. It has to resolve to take a stand for Jesus and accept the consequences. When we come to Mass and receive the Bread of Life in Holy Communion, the priest or the minister says, “The Body of Christ,” “The Blood of Christ,” into which we respond, “AMEN!” Funny because at times I hear people giving me a different answer. Instead of “Amen,” they say, “Thank You!” or worse, nothing at all! When we say “AMEN,” we profess our faith to what we receive that it is TRULY CHRIST under the appearances of Bread and wine. More importantly, our YES implies our TOTAL COMMITMENT to Christ whom we receive in the Eucharist. Without any doubt and reservations, we accept Him as our Savior and God so much so that His entire being becomes one of our own making us truly authentic disciples of Christ.
What makes our choosing in the exercise of freedom AUTHENTIC is not simply in DOING of CHOOSING what WE WANT but in DOING or CHOOSING what WE OUGHT. By what we ought means DOING and CHOOSING CHRIST who has loved us and who continues to love us by constantly offering Himself in the Eucharist.
So the next time, you are confronted with a life-changing decisions in life, make sure that such decisions would lead you back to the very source of our being – to Christ, who chose to die in order that we may have life through His body and blood. And just like Peter in today’s Gospel, let us readily profess in faith: “Lord, to whom shall we go? We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”