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Your Time to Choose

     For the past five weekends we have journeyed through the "Bread of Life" discourse in the Gospel of John. On this path Jesus has gained followers, increased his popularity, multiplied loaves, and began teaching one of the most difficult subjects for his companions to hear. Today, we come to the conclusion of this discourse with a final question: to believe or to turn away. The great crowds that had once followed him and were amazed by him, have now become perplexed by His words and have left. However, Peter responding for the apostles, replies, " Who else can we go to Lord?"

     At the beginning of John 6, where we find the "Bread of Life" discourse, we read the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand with five loaves of bread and two fish. Then, the large crowed follows Jesus for more. They realize the great event that had happened, and they wanted more signs to believe. However, Jesus sees through their words and knows that their need for signs isn't true. Their need for more miracles isn't coming from their hearts, but rather from their need for food. In Todays Gospel, we begin to see the truth in Jesus' insight of their faith. It was a faith based on their ideologies- not a faith built on a personal encounter. So, the people begin to leave Jesus, as described in this weekends Gospel because Jesus no longer conforms and fits into their own ideologies. 


     Joshua, in the first reading, offers the people present two options before they enter into the eternal city: to accept and believe in God ( who has aided them along their path to this city) or to return to their old ways and worship false gods and idols. The people gathered respond that because God has helped them: by bringing them out of slavery, protecting them along the way, and doing great things, that they will serve God. (Joshua 24:17-18b) Their response is very similar to the marvellous faith statement made my Peter in the Gospel.

     Peter, speaking for the apostles replies to Jesus, " Lord to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are that Holy on of God!" The gathered tribes of Israel respond much the same, but at a greater length, " Far be it from us that we should foresake the Lord to serve other gods; for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our ancestors up from the land of Egypt... and who did great signs in our sight. Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God." In both readings, the people are given an option, some choose to follow and some chose to turn away. However, those who follow confess their faith and their commitment to follow.

     Just like the gathered tribes of Israel and the companions of Christ, we to are given an option; to follow Him or not to. He lays this option freely to us. It is a freedom we all carry. God has given each of us a fundamental freedom to choose. To choose between following Christ or not to. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that our freedom is made perfect when it is used to follow Christ (CCC 1731) Christ is wanting followers who have freely chosen, from their free will, to believe and accept his teachings. Christ wants those who will come to His table of sacrifice that have freely chosen to go, worship and partake. 

    The celebration of the Eucharist is indeed that, a celebration. Each Mass is "little easter" when Christ concurs death and gives life for the world. The Eucharist is a celebration of this triumph, a celebration of the gathered people in worship and thanksgiving for partaking of the heavenly banquet.  The Eucharist is made complete when a the living church, the body of Christ, gathers together to be nourished, and sustained from the body of Christ on the Altar. It is through partaking of this table that we are spiritually fed- it is food that we are meant to eat, and receive life from.
 
The Church Oscar Romero was martyred in.
    The Eucharistic table is brought to its fullness only after we are fed from the words that give us life-the words of Christ. Before we receive the Eucharist, we receive Gods word. Gods Word, is a message for His people past and present. A message that is fulfilled in the Eucharist. A message that we called to carry out in our lives, which is made possible by receiving the Bread of life and saving cup. 

    As we conclude the "Bread of Life" discourse we are given an option: to stay and follow Christ, or to leave and return to our own ways. It is our option to accept the teachings of Christ and to fed from the Eucharistic table, or not to. It is our free will. God has prepared the banquet, he had called us to partake of it, we know need to respond. It is our faith response to these options that count. If we chose to accept the way of Christ, then we are accepting the way of life, the bread of life! We are accepting a community of faith, that make up the Body of Christ, to be fed by the Body of Christ on the Altar.  

So, whats your choice? 


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MIKE

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