Homily 21st Sunday Ordinary Time Year B - The Message of Eternal Life

Homily (Sermon) – The Message of Eternal Life.

The Readings for Sunday 26th August 2012  or the twenty-first Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B:
Joshua 24:1-2,15-18
Psalm 33
Ephesians 5:21-32
John 6:60-69
[These readings can be found at www.universalis.com for the next few weeks.]

We have heard over the last few weeks John account of the loaves and fish, the crowds that followed him after this miracle, of Christ's teaching on the bread of life and now we come to the crowds reaction to that teaching. For many of them their reaction was to leave Him, to turn away from Him, to reject His message. But why? Why was his message so intolerable? Why couldn't they accept it?

So to start lets have a little recap of the word of God we have heard over the last few weeks. The Miracle of the loaves and fish, Jesus showed the people of Israel, a miracle previously done for Mosses in the desert by God and Elisha feeding 100 men with only 20 loaves. The people see a prophet, a free meal and maybe hope that God is sending a leader to overthrow the Roman governors.

They continue to follow him and their number grows. Then he stops to talk to them about the food they have eaten. It's not food for the body that he is offering but food for the soul. It not flesh he is offering but spirit. He is not offering worldly things, food and power, but heaven itself. He is not a prophet with a message from God, but God Himself. He is asking them to accept that He is God, that their salvation only comes, can only come,  from Him.

At this point the people start to realise this man is not the way to a free and easy meal. He is not the military leader to challenge Rome. He is not what they expected, and they really didn't expect what he said He was. They found it intolerable that a man like them could claim to be God.

Christ knew they wanted to see proof, hence he asked them if seeing Him ascend into Heaven would convince them. He knew His Fathers plan, he knew he had to die, that He would rise from the dead on the third day and later ascend into heaven. He knew that many would then again turn to Him, who couldn't find it in themselves to follow Him then.

In many ways I think we are all like the people listening to Christ in our readings. We follow for the good things he gives us. The support, the peace, the community, the Christian family, the promise of eternal life with Him, His father and the Holy Spirit in Heaven. Those are all great reasons to follow, those are the easy parts of following.

We know the truth behind the intolerable message, we know about His resurrection, about His ascension, we know Him as the Son of God. We know him in the Trinity, we accept and worship Him as our Lord and God.

With that knowledge comes the hard side of following Him, the sharing in his Cross. We have a life to lead for Him, in service of Him, using our bodies to do the work He left us to do. Sometimes it's fulfilling work, sometimes it is hard work, sometimes it difficult and heartbreaking work. But, if He asks, we should respond. We have the same choice as the people standing listening to Christ, we have the same choice that Joshua give the people of Israel. We can desert our God when the going gets tough, when we don't like the message, when we can't accept what we are taught. Or we can continue to follow, because Christ has the answers. He has the message of eternal life, where else would we go?

But what do we do if we choose to follow and we don't like or understand the message or the work we are given. That's a really difficult question to answer, because that's when the message becomes personal. That's where we are all different. That's where we have to turn to the person that knows us best, the person who can see inside our hearts, the person that knows the bad in us as well as we do ourselves and loves us still. That's when we have to turn to Christ and ask Him for help. We Know Christ has already stepped into our humanity and lived as we live, He knows what it is like to be human. Christ, if you accept Him into your life, will help you.

If you don't understand something ask to see things from God's perspective or ask for His wisdom, His understanding. If something is to difficult for you ask for Christ's help, His strength. If something is to painful to bear ask Christ to bear it for you or with you. All you need to do is pray, a simple prayer, just talk to Him, He will listen and He will answer, I promise you.

The intolerable, unacceptable message of our Gospels is that Jesus is God. He is life, it is Christ we must accept into our lives, in everything we do, everything we say and everything we believe. Let Him in, trust Him, follow Him, Serve Him. He will lead you to eternal life, where else have you to go?

Last weeks Homily 20th Sunday - Homily Index - Next Weeks Homily 22nd Sunday


  1. Dear brother,
    Warm greetings from India! Thanks for the inspiring reflections. I would appreciate and welcome some events and examples to make the message personalized.
    God Bless !

    1. Dear Fr.Vimal.IMS,
      Firstly thank you for your kind feedback. Can I also just confirm if you are asking for me to post some of my personal examples here in the comments to help you reflect or were you offering more general feedback on how I can improve my homilies. I will be happy to post some example if that would help and am always pleased to receive feedback. Just let me know here, or drop me an email to john@deaconjohn.co.uk
      God Bless,

    2. Dear Bro.John,
      Warm greetings from Fr.Siddharth,s.j
      Thanks for your profound reflections,especially on the difficult part of following HIM. Weldone. Keep it up.
      Regards & God bless.

    3. Dear Fr Siddharth, Thank you for your kind remarks. Bless You, J.