Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Homily 21st Sunday Year B: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

Homily 21st Sunday Year B: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: Joshua 24:1-2a, 15-17,18b; Ps 34; 2-3, 16-21; Eph 5:2a, 25-32 and John 6:60-69

To whom shall we go? You have the words of Eternal Life

In the Gospel reading of today we heard,“To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life”. This is Peter’s response to Christ's question, “Do you also want to leave?”  Peter’s response is very close to Joshua’s profession and covenant renewal in the first reading, “As for me and my household we will serve the Lord.” Both express trust. Both express a choice. Both express love. Both express hope.  Both express wisdom. Both express faith and confident in God. Both express submission to God as in Pauline analogy of that loving, respectful couples who are submissive to one another, who nourishes and cherishes one another as Christ would  nourish and cherish the Church(Eph 5:21-32).

Last Sunday  many murmured and reacted negatively to the teachings of Jesus that he was/is the bread of life came down from heaven; and that whoever eats this bread, his flesh will live forever(John 6:51-58). Today, it is not just murmuring but many are walking away, perhaps closing their ears. Peter and other disciples, believers are not. What a choice!

Interestingly, this is the wobbling Peter: once very outspoken; once sunk in the sea faithlessly; once denied Christ three times; yet this is the same Peter who bravely chopped off Malchus’ ear in defense of Christ. He was at the empty tomb, loved Christ and would also come to die for Christ in Rome. We mean a renewed Peter who loved Christ, and whom Christ loved!

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York has recently written a must read title: To whom shall we Go? Lessons from the Apostle Peter. Obviously, he wants us to see ourselves in this wobbling Peter, especially when our journey seems to be difficult. And when we think we have made a lot of mistakes on the way, or our faith is not sufficient or our burdens are too heavy to carry. On page 14, the Cardinal describes Peter in the  following words of Raymond Brown:  

“Peter: Here is a man who knew his lord so well that he could rise above his abundant weakness, impetuosity, cowardice, pride, anger, pettiness, accept the power and mercy of his master, and become the first at the empty tomb, the premier apostle, the leader of the nation church, the rock upon which Christ built his Church.”

Today, we/the Church live in changing world, time and culture. Yes we have encountered pride, anger, frustration, sicknesses, family crises, worship of money, abuse of drugs and sex, silliness, pettiness, cowardice, injustices, faith denials, and betrayals, lost of jobs and loved ones, abuse of power here and there. And sometimes many voices that are contradictory to our faith.

In such moments we want  not only to remember that Christ still loves us, but also the, wisdom, the words Paul especially of Joshua and Peter: “as for me and my household we will serve the Lord.”  Or, “Master to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe.”