August 26th, 2018
XXI Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle B.
The first reading of this Sunday is taken from chapter 24th of the book of Joshua. It is a solemn moment that we see because the people of God after wandering many years in the desert, will finally enter the promised land. However, what we see from Joshua is that the change from the desert to the land of promise is not simply a victory, but the beginning of new challenges and new temptations. Hence, he invites the people of God — or we could say that he forces the people of God — to make a profession of faith: whom do you want to serve today? Which God will you worship?
The Gospel meanwhile is taken from the sixth chapter of John. It is the conclusion of the readings we have had on past Sundays. Christ is shown as the Bread of Life, and when He reveals that exalted stature of His love, some depart from Him, some feel that it is not for them or that is too much to handle. Hence, Jesus is asking his disciples: “Do you also want to leave?” We see the perfect response from Peter, which also serves as a profession of faith: “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” That devotion, faithfulness, obedience, loyalty from Peter to Our Lord Jesus Christ is a testimony for us too. It serves as an invitation to us also to have the devotion, faithfulness, obedience, and loyalty to Jesus Christ, to see him as the one who truly has life and gives it in abundance.
Now I would like to go back to the first reading because it is interesting the interrogation of Joshua to the Israelites, and it is also interesting the response that the people give at first. We realize that the Israelites did not fulfill all that they have promised.
However, it is not striking to see how they profess their faith in the God of the covenant, the question we could ask ourselves is: what leads them to believe in God? The faith of the people is not an increase from emptiness; there is a famous Danish philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard who claimed that faith was absurd, for him it was an increase from the emptiness that requires a leap of faith, i. e., if you go to the Taj Mahal and bet all your money in the roulette. The faith of the Bible is not that! Kierkegaard in that sense was completely wrong. Faith is a response to the multiple signs that God has placed in our lives, and the Israelites interrogated by Joshua demonstrate three of those great signs:
- God is first, who brought our fathers and us up out of Egypt
- He performed those great miracles before our very eyes
- Protected us along our entire journey
Then, the God who liberates, who does wonders, and who protects; that is the God in whom we believe, that is how the Israelites speak at the gates of the promised land. These three elements can be applied to our own lives, for example, we should ask ourselves from what God has liberated us, what chains have been broken by God in my life? What has God unleashed in my life?
Secondly, what are the wonders or miracles that my eyes have witnessed? What is it that my eyes have seen? So that I too can be a witness of God, otherwise, how can I be a testimony of a God that I know nothing about? Through nature and the history of humanity, or even in the history of my life, what are those wonders or miracles that I have witnessed?
Thirdly, what is my experience of this God who protects and walks with His people? What is that experience of God that I can say that He is my strength, my dear friend, and love of my soul?
Those are the reasons to believe from the people of God, and that is an invitation for us to recognize those same reasons in our lives so that we can strengthen our faith and truly attach ourselves with all fidelity to the Lord.