A Time to Choose
21st Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

From the time we wake up in the morning until we sleep at night we make choices. It can be as trivial as what color of clothes to wear or as serious as getting married or not. Life is a series of choices, some more serious than others. In a world of multiple choices, some peope couldn’t make up their minds. I remember a vocation seminar where a young man shared that he wants to try being a priest and being succesful businessman and being married in his lifetime. If only he could be all. Another person I met claims to have no particular religious community. He goes to whatever worship service is available.

Action starter: In what way is my choice of Jesus making a difference?

All three readings this Sunday speak of a very important choice we have to make. Are we for God or not? In the first reading, the people of Israel under Joshua’s leadership gathered at Shechem and as a community they decided to follow the God of Israel (Josh. 24:15). The second reading describes the church as a bride who has been chosen by Christ and who chooses Christ (Eph. 5:32). The Gospel tells the story of the people’s reaction to Jesus’ discourse on the bread of life and his offer of His flesh as food. They did not understand and they left (Jn. 6:66) Jesus asked his disciples, “Are you also going to leave?” (John 6:67).

Discipleship is a choice. It is primarily God’s choice. God invites us in Jesus to live in a godly manner. Because we are invited we also have to make a choice to accept or reject the invitation. Part of the dynamics of choices is that in this finite world when we choose something we also give up another thing. When I choose to go to Davao I cannot at the same time go to Manila. There are choices where one can choose different objects at the same time. I can eat rice with egg or with fish or with both. I can choose to be a teacher and a part-time businessman.

There are also choices that are exclusive of each other. I cannot be a soldier for two opposing armies. I cannot be a sales agent for two rival companies. I cannot be a candidate for two opposing parties. Some of Jesus’ statements underline this. Either you serve God or mammon. It is easier for a camel to enter a needle’s eye than for a rich man to enter heaven. Enter by the narrow door. The road to perdition is easy and wide. I am the way. Join the sheep or the goats. Be at the right or the left. This Sunday he asks, “Do you also want to leave?”

The challenge is clear. Shall we live in the ways of Jesus or in the ways of the world? Shall we live according to the flesh or according to the Spirit?

Living in the way of Jesus has many implications. It is not solo living. Even the early Christian hermits who lived by themselves knew they were part of a larger community called the church. Eventually they formed monastic communities. To live in Jesus’ way is to live in fellowship with a community and experiencing in the present moment the ways of the kingdom of God. It means worshiping, loving, forgiving, reconciling, promoting life, respecting persons, living harmoniously with creation, and sharing one’s person, talents, and possessions. It is to be in communion and fellowship with others. It also means to share the gift that one has received. This calls for a life of witnessing, preaching, praying and serving.

Choosing Jesus and living according to His way is more than just waiting for a future heaven to come. It is to make heaven present at the now moment. Christian living becomes more challenging and exciting if we see it this way. We are here to bring some bit of heaven on earth. We affirm this every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as in heaven.” Such is the choice we make.