Reflection: Twenty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m.

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

Bible study/sharing every Saturday (2:00-4:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church, 5 Leicester Place WC2H 7BX (near See Woo Chinese Supermarket, Leicester Square tube station)

Talk and discussion meeting First Monday of every month (4:00-6:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church


[1st Reading – Jos.24:1-2, 15-18; Ps.33; 2nd Reading – Eph.5:21-32; Gospel – Jn.6:60-69]


This reaction of Jesus was provoked by many of His followers who, when Jesus spoke about Himself being the Bread of Life, considered Jesus’ language as “intolerable” and “unacceptable”. Jesus was fully aware that some of His followers were still finding it difficult to accept what he was saying, even though He tried to explain using simple language. And when they were complaining to each other, Jesus told them that if they were not ready to accept what he was saying in easy comprehensible language (with all the examples He was giving) then they were not ready to accept Him and therefore they may leave.

Today’s Gospel is not about comprehensible or simple language. It is about the ever recurring theme of “believing” in Christ. “To believe” is to actively make a choice between what is God’s and what is not God’s. Someone once said that “Life is made of choices” and here we are facing the choice of whether they want to “go away” or to “stay with Jesus”.  And Jesus did not hesitate to offer this choice to his disciples. We are told that many of His disciples who when confronted with the choice (i.e. with Jesus or away from Jesus), they decided that following Jesus was not for them. In contrast, Peter’s answer was given from the viewpoint of those who chose Jesus and Peter declared the reasons why they chose to stay with Him – because no one was like Jesus: (1) Jesus has the message for eternal life; (2) they believe in Jesus and (3) they know Jesus is the Holy One of God. It is interesting that Peter answered – the same Peter who later betrays Jesus three times during Jesus’ Passion, not like Judas whom Jesus knew was to betray Him only once. Jesus knew all these things and he also knew “from the outset those who did not believe” but he still called them because he always let them decide for themselves whether they choose to follow Jesus or not. During the Passion, they all chose to leave Jesus. It is like Joshua (in the Old Testament – First Reading) when he made his choice that he and his family will serve the Lord. Joshua also gave his people a choice, if they too, as the tribes of Israel, wanted to serve the Lord or not!!! It is like (the second Reading) when the husband and wife make the choice of leaving their own families in order to build a new family… Life is truly made of choices!

And what about us? What choice will we make in response to today’s Gospel invitation or today’s responsorial psalm inviting us to “Taste and see that the Lord is good”. It really depends on us if we are ready to taste and see the goodness of the Lord. And how do we respond to His invitation? Do we say “This is an intolerable and an unacceptable language” and leave Christ and his Church? Or do we instead go to the Lord to Taste and therefore participate in what He wants to give us, i.e. HIMSELF as the Bread of Life. Given that the choice is down to ourselves to pick – what decision are we going to make?

Lord, You are asking us the same question that You asked your Twelve disciples: “What about you, do you want to go away too?” Give us the wisdom we need to answer You like Simon Peter and say: “Lord, who shall we go to?” Help us Lord to choose to stay with You always! Thank You Lord!”


Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo )

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