The 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
It was a moment of great decision, of choosing to walk the talk. Josue, before all the tribes of Israel, a great assembly, posed the question: “…decide today whom you will serve – as for me and my household we will serve the Lord!” The people, moved by Josue’s conviction, respond, “…far be it for us to forsake the Lord…therefore we also will serve the Lord, for He is our God.”
But as we know, they did forsake the Lord; the history of the Old Testament recounts all the times of unfaithfulness, of idolatry, of human sacrifices and yet, through it all, a remnant remained faithful to the covenant. Some were kings, some were judges, some were common folk and we know some by name: Samuel, David, Elijah, Josiah, Judith, the great prophets – all servants of the living God – living a dedication, a belief with courage.
In the Gospel another moment of decision arises: Jesus has spoken of Himself as the bread of life. He made it most clear that His flesh is real food, His blood real drink, and the reaction was quick and strongly troubled. “How can anyone take it seriously” and “…from this time on many of His disciples broke away and would not remain in His company any longer” – they turned their backs on Him! Then Jesus, surely saddened, questioned the twelve: “…do you want to leave Me too?” Simon Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go…we are convinced that You are God’s holy one!”
And so a remnant remained – some men and women remained faithful to the Master – the Apostles all but one, some women, some prominent Jews – surely they struggled with His words – but they trusted Him and stayed in His company.
Down through the centuries, there has always been a faithful remnant – men, women who remained in the Lord’s company through terrible persecution, through scandal, through all sorts of trials and sufferings – whether it be personal or of a people or of a nation – such in our own times.
For the remnant of the Lord Jesus Christ is always Sovereign Lord and always His majesty, His goodness is greater than any trial of faith, of life. Peter’s confession is repeated, “…to whom shall we go? You have the words of Eternal Life.” No one else has this precious grace; no one else is this most sacred Word – only You, Lord!
We are blessed to be among this holy remnant; it is our graced reality that we are blessed to have the LIght, the Truth, the Way, the Life that is the Lord Jesus Himself in us, around us. And what is more, we know this, we are convinced of it. By God’s wisdom, a mysterious wisdom we can say with St. Paul: “I know in Whom I have believed…nothing can separate me from the love of God…nothing.” Certainly, we cannot boast of this as if it were our own doing, Rather we are humbled, deeply humbled by the gracious gift of the Lord and surely captivated by Him. “You are the one to Whom we go and desire to go. You, Lord, have planted this desire in our hearts.
Being caught up in the long line of faithful people, the holy remnant is truly a matter for wonder, for reflection, for great gratitude but given our sinful humanity, our imperfect ways we need to be reminded by the Sacred Word: “Let the one who thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall.”
By His great mercy may we remain faithful in the company of the Lord.