21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Joshua 24:1-2a, 15-17, 18b
August 26, 2012
During the past four weeks, we have heard that Jesus fed 5,000 people with just five barley loaves and two fish. He has spoken of himself both as “The Bread of Life” and “The Bread that came down from Heaven.” He has told the people that if they eat of the bread of which he speaks, they will not die.
The people (understandably) were having a hard time with this. Then, last week, we heard Jesus tell the people that they must “eat his flesh” and “drink his blood.” To this, we hear the disciples reply this week, “This saying is hard, who can accept it?”
To eat his flesh and drink his blood is indeed a hard saying to accept. In human terms, it seems awful.
Perhaps, though, with their response of “this saying is hard” they were hoping that Jesus would explain what he really meant when he said these or that he “might soften the blow”.
He did not. Instead he asked if they were shocked. Then he adds what would they think if they were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he came from.
Of course, this is a reference to his coming Ascension and Resurrection and the ‘where he came from’ points to him saying that he is the bread that came down from heaven.
So, in a way, he just makes even more difficult for them to understand and accept.
How hard is it for us to accept this message?
Do we believe that Jesus feed 5,000 people with just five barley loaves and two fish?
Do we believe that Jesus is the Bread of Life?
Do we believe that Jesus is the bread that came down from Heaven?
To add more:
Do we believe that Jesus was willingly crucified for us so our sins could be forgiven?
Do we believe in the Resurrection?
It’s a lot to believe in right? And none of it can be proven & explained in human terms. History might document the feeding of 5,000 and that a man named Jesus was crucified but human history does not explain it but in faith we believe.
Do we question? Is it wrong to question? Is it a sin to doubt?
At the end of this, many of the disciples “returned to their former way of life” because they could not understand. When they left, Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked them “Do you also want to leave?”
Simon Peter responds “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life?”
Peter does not say that they understand everything. He does not say they find what Jesus said easy to believe. He does not say their faith is perfect.
But because they believe, Peter knows that they believe in Jesus, that he has the words of eternal life. Where else would they possibly want to go?
In the first reading from the Book of Joshua, the people renew their commitment to the Lord, the same commitment they had already made through Moses at Mount Sinai. But they had doubted and so renew their commitment through Joshua. They will doubt and fail again. That’s why Jesus came!
At the Annunciation, even Mary did not understand how she could be pregnant but when told it was by God’s power, she believed.
My understanding is not perfect. I cannot explain everything that we profess in our faith. But I can and do believe.
I might ask if you understand all that happens with Jesus but I will not. But I do encourage you to ask yourselves do you believe in Jesus? You’re here aren’t you?
May we all think like Peter and say “Master, 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.”