August 22, 2021 – 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/082221.cfm)
When you want buy something, how do you choose that thing (cloths, accessories, or gadgets) that you want to buy? Some wise buyers would go through into a selection process before buying. They would consider the quality, its practicality, the price, the evaluation of other buyers, and the specifications of the item. However, there are also some of us who actually don’t mind all these steps but would only consider if it is trending or popular, used and promoted by famous personalities or just used by others, neighbors and friends. Even though they may not be so practical for us or useful but because it’s the trend, we go into that.
This is not just limited to buying things. During elections, people tend to vote people in office because of popularity not really because of the competency of the candidate. This is evident on how every candidate will make their name and faces be recognized by the people. Posters and billboards are displayed in every corner, a catchy jingle is composed, radio and TV commercials are prepared in order to introduce into the minds of the voters that they are popular and thus, shall be remembered during the election day. Though not all, but people are elected in office primarily because they are famous and popular.
This is not far from what we believe and sometimes spread. I am talking with the fake news that surround us. People tend to believe, spread and adhere to fake news because they have become popular and because many have come to believe in them. We should be very careful then because a popular opinion or belief does not always hold the truth. Thus, be very careful when you entertain people who tend to talk a lot about other people. It is actually very easy to identify people who bring fake news and “chismis,” they are usually loud and tend to dominate the conversation. People who bring fake news and chismis do not have to be invited also. They voluntarily talk and spread it.
And when a story is being told and retold then, it becomes popular and many will believe that it is true. And we who hear a story would not even care to investigate if the story is true. Indeed, these situations tell us of our tendency to favor and choose things, people, beliefs and principles according to their popularity. The number of people who tend to favor such thing is very influential for us. This kind of tendency in us is not far from those we have heard in the scriptures.
In the first reading, Joshua asked the people if they would choose and commit themselves to Yahweh. At that time, there were many gods that confused people and divide them. There was the temptation to choose those foreign gods than choosing the true God, Yahweh. Joshua confronted the people and to choose right there, at that moment. The people, with their clear conscience, chose God to be served and to be loved.
Jesus taught the people that He is the Bread of Life that came down from heaven. Through him, by eating his body and drinking his blood, eternal life will be attained. Yet, the people around him found this teaching difficult to accept and offensive. The teaching of Jesus implied that they were to follow Jesus in his ways and let go of their old ways. This teaching was understood to be taken with commitment to Jesus. Jesus’ teaching asked them to let go of their old beliefs and renew themselves in God. Yet, they could not let go and accept Jesus fully in their life. They could not believe that God became man and He is with us. They could not believe that God desires mercy and forgiveness of all. Thus, they left Jesus and “returned to their former way of life” because his teachings were unpopular for them.
Jesus confronted his disciples, “do you also want to leave?” In a similar way, Jesus also asks each of us, “Will you also leave? Will you choose me or the false gods? Will you also leave me because of your sins and guilt, because of your comforts and wants?”
There are many false gods around us. These false gods may tempt us to worship them rather than God, to believe in them rather than in the Word of God, to hold on them rather than trusting in Jesus. These false gods could be our desire to be famous, to gain power and control, to manipulate and use others. They could also be in the form of persons whom we idolize where we refuse any criticism on them and following them blindly. These could also be our own unhealthy behaviors or addictions that we continually keep. These could be our pretensions and insecurities that we continue to hone. These could also be our comforts and possessions that we are so attached. These could be our false belief and principles in life that only advances our personal agenda.
We are challenged and called today to choose and commit ourselves in serving and loving the Lord. Choosing Jesus and committing our work, studies, dreams, hopes and our whole life to Jesus is surely not the popular thing to do today. Yes, it may not be the popular to be always true and to be always loving, but to be true to ourselves, true to others and true to God will make us free. Indeed, choosing Jesus and following faithfully his teachings is truly difficult as the people complained. Thus, this Eucharist is our way now to renew once again our commitment. This is our opportunity to choose Jesus!
As we choose Jesus everyday, this means that we choose life not death, choose hope not despair, chose mercy and love not anger and hatred, choose humility not aggression and to choose warmth and concern not indifference. Hinaut pa.