MAY 2, 2020

FIRST READING: Acts 9:31-42

PSALM: Psalms 116:12-13, 14-15, 16-17

GOSPEL READING: John 6:60-69

SERMON BY: Fr. Raphael Mbendera

THEME: Tough Choices of Christian Life

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, during this third week of Easter we have been listening to Jesus’ discourse on the bread of life. He went on insisting, “Unless you eat the flesh of the son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you….” This was too much for the people to accept. It was scandalous. They wanted him to lower his standard a bit, make some kind of compromise. Jesus refused. The outcome was as the Gospel says, “many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him”.

This reading invites us to reflect seriously on our lives as Christians and make a concrete choice. When Jesus revealed that He was the Bread of Life, He challenged His disciples. He told them that the way to salvation is through Him. And many people, people who had followed Him and heard Him and had seen Him act, could not accept this challenge of faith, of believing in His divinity and His salvific mission. As a result we hear that many of them left him. They could not accept Him any longer.

Then Jesus asked those who remained to make a decision. “So Jesus asked the twelve. ‘Do you also wish to go away?’ Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom can we go”? You have the words of eternal life.’” John 6: 67-68. My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Christianity is not an easy way of life. There will always be challenges before us if we choose to follow Jesus. To be a Christian means that we embrace Jesus as number one reality in my life. We cannot prefer anyone or anything to Him. He’s first, he’s number one. I must have absolute priority over the closest human relationships in my life.

If there’s anyone in your life that can influence you to disobey God, forget him or her. If friends pressure you to use drugs or abuse alcohol, skip school, or steal – you need to tell them, sorry guys. I cannot do that. No one is to have priority of Jesus Christ and what he teaches. Christianity demands that we be willing to carry the cross. The cross comes in many forms, but in the end, to be a Christian does not mean we are in any way exempted from the troubles and trials of this world. Jesus indicates that we will be hated by the world (cf. John15:20), persecuted and sorely tempted by this world.

But if we hold out, victory will be ours. It is a simple rule: No cross, No crown. There are some who want to preach a prosperity gospel. There are others who demand a gospel stripped of its moral imperatives. Still others demand an updated faith that tickles their ears and affirms their compromised behavior. Christianity demands that we be detached from anything that hinders us from being good Christians. The fact is that many things attach us to this world and make Christian life difficult. Are we willing to simplify our lives and get more focused on being good and active Christians? Salvation is costly.

It is not free. We need to count the cost. My dear brothers and sisters in Christ just like the people of Jesus’s time we are facing so many challenges in our life of faith today. Jesus challenges us, in our broken world where wrong is right, and right is wrong. We must make a choice: God or the world? The way to heaven is not easy. We have a choice to make. Will you walk to the Lord with your family or away from the Lord? The risen Lord also looks for commitment from us: ‘do you want to go away too?’

In our modern world many have turned away from faith. So we each need to make a more personal, deliberate decision about faith than was required in the past. As we try to make that decision we can do no better than to make Peter’s words our own: ‘Lord, you have the message of eternal life, and we believe that you are the Holy One of God.’ Pray: Lord, I know it won’t be easy, but give me the strength and courage to follow You.

When I am worn out from the beatings and want to quit, help me to keep my eyes on You.

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