Choices, choices, choices. There is the story about an atrocity in the 2nd WW where the Nazis shot down a group of Jews and buried them in a mass grave. A partially hurt, 12yr old boy was still alive and dug his way out of the shallow grave and went to nearby houses seeking shelter. The people knew what had happened and when they saw the boy caked with dirt, they hurriedly shut the door in his face. One woman was about to do the same when the boy said, "Lady, don't you recognize me? I'm the Jesus you Christians say you love." The lady broke into tears and received the boy into her home. She had made the choice for Jesus. In today's gospel Jesus challenged his audience and you and me to believe him, to make a choice for him and accept his promise of the Eucharistic food.
The main theme in today's readings is that our Christian life is a series on daily choices for God or against God and the truths he revealed through his prophets in the Old Testament and especially through his Son Jesus as detailed in the New Testament. In last Sunday's Gospel Jesus told the people, "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you don't have life within you." The Jews quarreled among themselves saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" You and I know that Jesus was talking about was the sacrament of the Eucharist, which he instituted at the Last Supper, but I'm sure that the Apostles didn't understand that until after the Last Supper but trusted Jesus, they chose him, taking him at his word. Jesus realizing that what he had said was difficult to accept, but he didn't call the many of his disciples who left him at that point, returning to their former way of life. If he would have been speaking symbolically, as some Christian denominations believe, rather than literally, he would have called them back. Because he literally meant what he said he didn't call them back but went on to ask his Apostles, "Do you also want to leave?" And our first Pope, Peter answered him boldly by saying, "Master to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God."
They chose for Jesus just as we are called to, just as the Jewish woman did back at the time of the 2nd WW. Too often there is a gap between what we do, what we choose and what we say. We say we believe in Christ, trust him and have faith in him but some times there exists a gap between our profession of faith, the words we say and our living out of that faith in our daily lives. Some times we are like some of the other Jewish people who slammed the door in the young Jewish boy's face. We have the option of choosing for or against Jesus over and over again in this modern age, in this culture. Are the teaching of Jesus too idealistic to be practiced? Are they too challenging, too risky to be put into action?
Our task is to stand for Jesus, to choose him and accept the consequences. We recognize in our going to Communion we become totally one with Jesus. When I or Eucharistic Minister says, "The Body of Christ," and the "Blood of Christ" and we respond, "Amen", when we receive the living Body and Blood of Christ, we are individually saying "Yes" I believe I am receiving the living Body and Blood of Christ. That's not just a pious, it is an act of faith, a total commitment of ourselves to Jesus in the community of which I am a member. We are accepting him totally without any conditions or reservations. His thoughts and attitudes, his values, his life-view is to be totally ours. Above all we are to identify with him in offering of his blood on the cross, the symbol of God's unutterable love of each of us.
That's quite a commitment, adopting his thoughts, his attitudes, his values and his life-view. Again that is to be not just an act of faith but the accepting our Christian Faith not as a Sunday activity but a way of life. Not just accepting it but living it. We can meet that commitment by accepting God's help, knowing him, loving him and trusting him. Having the same faith in him as he has in each of us. Choosing him as he has chosen us to be his followers.