Jesus Our one and only Choice
Reading 1: Joshua 24: 1 – 18
Psalm :Psalm 34: 2 – 21
Reading 2: Ephesians 5: 21 – 32
Gospel: John 6: 60 – 69
God has a plan for our lives. The plan also comes with a condition. If we listen and do not stray
from the path God offers, we would lead fulfilled and happy lives. The idea is attractive because
it gives dignity and purpose to everything. As we pray, the mundane and difficult times acquire a
capacity to awaken and transform us. The theology gives meaning to everything, because there is
a big story going on – what James Hanvey SJ calls a meta – narrative. It is important to believe
that God wants us to be available, ready and useable, that our lives are not vain.
At some stage though, we come across a challenge. What happens when we face two options,
both morally good, at a time when God seems absent or deaf to our appeals? Do we rack
ourselves with guilt for not listening properly, or blame an apparently indifferent God? I have met
people who have headed in both of these directions. Some believe that God is ignoring their
crisis, others blame themselves for being incapable of hearing God’s direction.
Our dilemma about the job was far from unique. The lack of Godly lightning is well documented.
In his meditations, Blessed John Henry Newman wrote: “He may make me feel desolate, make
my spirits sink, hide my future from me. Still, He knows what He is about.”
John Wesley, in his Covenant Prayer appeared to welcome such remoteness, “Let me be full, let
me be empty, let me have all things, let me have nothing.”
Great spiritual writers like Thomas Merton wrote of having no idea which way they were going.
It seems that in a lifetime of faith there is a necessary emptiness at times, of not knowing rather
knowing, of confusion rather than clarity.
All the Bible heroes like Joshua got their final victory only by deciding for God and taking sides
with God. In the first reading we notice Joshua, before he went to fight against the Amorites, did
not try to make best choices of arms and ammunitions. Rather, he tells his people: “Decide today
whom you will serve the Lord whom myself and my family serve or the gods beyond the River or
the gods of the Amorites?”
All of us present here made God in Jesus as our choice for our life and our household, as Joshua
did with his family. We have been bold enough to differentiate ourselves from the pagans, from
the idolaters, from Atheists, and from the irreligious worldly secular people, by choosing to
worship a God who is only one God. We have been continuously professing that Jesus Christ is
our Lord, God and Saviour. There are many reasons floating around for why you chose as your
God, the God in Jesus Christ of Catholic faith. There may be many human reasons why we made
such hard choices in life. One among them, I am sure, is the most important one, as Peter told
Jesus of Nazareth: To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” The Second most
valid reason is that we found in Jesus Christ an unchanging selfless sacrificial godly love for us.
This is what Paul had in mind when he wrote to the married couples by comparing their love with
the love of Jesus towards his Church. We heard Paul saying in today’s second reading: “Christ
loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her cleansing her by the bath of
water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or
wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be hold and without blemish.”
In John’s Gospel we meet disappointment among the followers of Jesus. Some of those who
admire Jesus are now finding the challenge of walking with him too much. There is the
possibility of failure. They are not heading in the direction they had hoped. As Jesus approaches
his destiny without any army, there is growing uncertainty among the followers and some start to
fall away. Peter is different. Although there is a hint of reluctance in his tone, he knows he can
go nowhere else. His relationship with Jesus has touched him deeply enough to know there will
be no substitutes. No alternatives. No other prophet will do. He knows the Lord. Where do go
when you have come face – to – face with truth and the truth loves you? The only thing he can do
is go where he doesn’t know, or even where he would rather not.
Many of Jesus’ disciples and friends departed from his friendship because of certain reasons.
Many left him because they wanted free food – a free lunch – and not some vague – sounding
spiritual food that would do nothing for their hungry guts. Others, because, they could not believe
that God would send spiritual food through a person as plain as Jesus – through someone they
knew did not want God to get that close to them. They wanted to run their own lives – rather than
let god live and work through them. Saints became saints because once they decided God in Jesus
as their choice of life; they have made a commitment to him in following all his Gospel values,
they were the people who decided to be cheerful when it was difficult to be cheerful ; decided to
be patient when they found it hard to be patient; they pushed on, when they would have stood
still; they kept silent when they could have talked; they were agreeable when there was a chance
to be disagreeable; they loved when they had a desire to hate. The best of them all is that, they
made these choices on the light of their innocence, on the inner drive to please and glorify their
only Master, and on their childlike attitude towards life.
We may not get answer to all our prayers or a divine signpost from God. Not because God doesn’t
have an answer, but because it was time to grow up. It was time to move on from worshipping a
God who grants wishes. North or south, promotion or redundancy, marriage or friendship, stay or
go sometimes God wants us to learn to trust. God wants us to learn to believe, learn to surrender.
This doesn’t come from getting an answer. It comes from not getting an answer. Sometimes this
can best be learned when the answer to prayer is an unrelenting silence.
This week, let us reflect upon our commitment towards the Lord Jesus. Let us dread just the
thought of Jesus asking us, “Do you also wish to go away?”
God bless. Have a wonderful day.