Sunday, 22 August 2021 : Twenty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are all reminded of our faith in the Lord, and of the obligations that each and every one of us have as Christians, and that is to hold firmly to the Law and commandments that the Lord has given to us all, revealed to us through Christ, His Son, Our Lord and Saviour, and passed down to us through the Church, through His Apostles and disciples, and their successors.

In our first reading today, we heard of the story from the Book of Joshua, in which Joshua, the leader of all the Israelites, as the one who led the Israelites into the promised land, gathered all the whole assembly of the Israelites and reminded them to remain faithful to God and not to be easily swayed by the other gods and idols, and thus, he told them to make a stand right there and then, who they would follow and serve, whether the Lord or whether they preferred to follow the pagan gods and false idols instead.

We heard then how the people chose to follow the Lord and promised to follow Him and His path, and so would their descendants. Joshua then charged all the people to keep in mind the Lord’s Law and commandments, all that He had revealed and given to them, and pass them on to their descendants. They were charged with passing down all the stories and the faithful witnesses of the Lord’s great wonders and deeds, as He led them all out of the land of Egypt, took care of them throughout their Exodus in the desert, and finally led them to the promised land they were dwelling in.

Yet it was not easy for them to remain faithful to the Lord, or from time to time, again and again, they lapsed and fell into the wrong paths, as they abandoned the Lord and embraced the worship of pagan and false idols, and God sent to them His servants, the Judges and later on the prophets, to keep them in check, to guide them and to redirect their attention towards the Lord, and to remind them that as the people of God, they had an obligation to follow the Law of God and His commandments.

It is then we come to hear the account from the Gospel passage today, in which we heard the aftermath of the Lord’s miraculous feeding of the multitudes of thousands of people, and His discourse on the Bread of Life. At that occasion, the Lord told the people frankly and without hiding the truth, that He would gave them all His Body and His Blood for them all to partake, as real food and drink that they may eat and drink from. And this made the people to wonder and question Him and His truth, as they found it difficult to accept this truth, that the Lord as the Bread of Life is giving them His own Precious Body and Blood.

Many of the Lord’s disciples and the people who followed Him left Him at that time, and those who were left behind were few, including the Twelve who remained faithful, and who still trusted the Lord and His truth. Yet even they found the truth difficult to understand and endure, as represented by St. Peter, they told Him that such a harsh truth would be difficult for anyone to bear and stomach, and even they found it difficult to believe themselves, as some of them undoubtedly were still hesitating and still had doubts in them.

It was then that the Lord doubled down even more, by telling them that what He has revealed to them was just part of the greater revelation, that if they found it difficult to accept what He has just revealed to them, then it would be even tougher for them to accept and appreciate the things that they would come to witness, such as His Passion and death, and His Resurrection and Ascension into heaven, which He did allude to in that occasion. And through this, we can see that to be Christians is not one simple matter or easy feat.

Often times we may have to go against the popular opinion or even logic in our faith, and we have to face persecutions, trials and troubles for our faith and trust in the Lord, and for standing up to His truth and love. Yet, we have to persevere and prevail, for the Lord’s truth has been revealed to us, the fullness of His love, care and compassion towards us as He has shown us through Christ, His Son. By His loving sacrifice on the Cross, He, our Eternal and True High Priest offered Himself, as the worthy Paschal Lamb of God, a sacrifice and offering of His own Most Precious Body and Blood, that we all who partake in His Body and Blood receive the assurance of eternal life through Him.

All of us as Christians have received this truth, and the revelation of God’s love. Therefore, as faithful servants and followers of the Lord, we should do our very best to commit ourselves to live righteously and strive to walk in His path, doing whatever we can, in our own capacities, and within our own communities and in the opportunities given to us, so that we may indeed be worthy of being called God’s chosen people, the members of His Church, with Christ as our Head, and we as the parts of this united Body of Christ, all sharing in the same Bread of Life.

Each and every one of us should embrace the Lord’s call for us to be more active in our faith life, and we should discern carefully what each and every one of us can do in order to be part of the Church’s efforts and good works in reaching out to more and more of our fellow brothers and sisters, especially those who have not yet known the Lord, and those who may have had a wrong idea or impression Him and our Christian faith. It is up to us to be genuine witnesses of our faith and be inspiration to one another as Christians.

Let us all therefore today commit ourselves anew to the Lord, making commitment and dedication that lasts a lot longer and far more than the promises made by the Israelites of old before God and Joshua. Let us all follow in the path of the Apostles and the many other faithful disciples of the Lord, following the inspiring examples of the saints, and striving to lead a worthy and holy life, that we can become a source of inspiration ourselves to help inspire one another, especially those who lack the faith and are filled with doubt.

May the Lord, our most loving God and Father be with us always, and may He help us to remain strong in our faith, and may He encourage and strengthen us as we continue to walk through our life’s journey with true and sincere devotion to Him, now and always. Amen.

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