1.Joshua 24:1-2
2.Ephesians 5:21-32
3.John 6:60-69

" The minorities can be right"

From my everyday and personal life experiences, I have come into realization that in our culture success can be linked with the game of numbers. For example many times we find that  a successful television program is one that has a very viewing audience, if the number watching a certain declines, thus the program is in trouble. We are all aware that democracy is based on majority votes. Those candidates who seem to have more votes are the ones to be declared winners in political election or any other election based on the principle of democracy. The schools having the biggest number of graduates going on to University are considered to be better schools under this qualification.

The gospel today suggests that Jesus was not too concerned about numbers. As we are all aware that the sections of the gospel for our last four Sunday's have been taken from chapter six of John's gospel whereby Jesus declares himself to be the bread of life and of the need to eat his flesh and drink his blood in order to have life. In our today's gospel this kind of language Jesus is speaking to his audience is not well understood to an extent that some of Jesus' disciples express their unease with this language. ' this is intolerable language they say, ' how could anyone accept it?' Jesus is portrayed in that reading as being aware that some of his followers were complaining, yet he did not soften his teaching to suit the complaints of his followers, meaning to hold and squeeze his teaching to his numbers. Rather he insists that the words he has been speaking, all his words, are spirit and life. Consequently, we are told from the scripture, more especially from the gospel that many left him because of that. Jesus lost the majority because of his stand on the word of God. 

Today's gospel is about coming to a decision and sticking by it. Jesus had the rare ability to offer a straight option- You were either for him or against him. He himself was fully committed to his mission, and to all that was best for us, even if at times his disciples complained. He was used to be criticized by his rivals, yet when he could not depend on the loyalty of his friends, he had to call them to account. From the gospel we learn a lesson that a religion is something not to be imposed to individuals, rather it is something to be done out of freedom. The good example is from today's gospel when some of Jesus' followers begun to walk away he did not run after them or impose force on them, rather he left them free to make their decision, either to follow him or not, instead he turned to those who stayed and challenged them to commit themselves. It should be clearly noted that there are three types of people in every gathering . Those who cause things to happen; those who watch things happening! and those who don't know what is happening! Peter was the one who stepped up to the occasion. " Lord" he said "  You alone have the words of eternal life.We know and we believe that you are the Christ, the Holy one of God." For Jesus to loose others was worth it, if it left him with loyal followers like Peter.

A group of Christians were gathered for a secret prayer meeting in one of the communist Country, Russia. Suddenly the door was broken down by the boot of a soldier who entered the prayer room, and faced the people with a gun in his hand. They all feared the worst when he said, " If there are any of you who don't really believe in Jesus, get out now while you have a chance." There was a rush to the door and in the end only small group of people remained. The soldier closed the door and stood in front of those who remained, gun still in his hand. Finally , a smile appeared on his face, and as he turned to leave the room he whispered " Actually I believe in Jesus, too.And believe me you are much better off without those others!' Let us commit ourselves on what we believe even in time of danger.

According to the gospel narrative we are told that even Jesus turned on to the twelve apostles, his core group and asked them, 'what about you? do you want to go away too?' Jesus was ready to suffer hemorrhage rather than compromise on the teaching that he had given. We learn a lesson from Jesus in the gospel today that we better stand for the word of God, for the truth of the gospel in all situation, be either pleasing situation or threatening situation this is all about discipleship. It seems that to him numbers were not important. What was important to him was to proclaim the truth of the gospel as he heard it from God. On this occasion Jesus hold onto the twelve the twelve. Peter, their spokes person, declared their stand to remain with Jesus and being faithful to him by saying ' Lord, to whom shall we go? you have the message of eternal life.' Yet Jesus would go on to lose even some of the twelve. At the time of his passion, Judas betrayed him and Peter denied him. If success was to be qualified by numbers, at the end of his earthly ministry, Jesus was to encounter a total failure.

In the life of Jesus it can be concluded that the value of something does not bear any necessary relation to the number of people who support it. Popularity is not a guarantee to point where the truth is to be found. It can be a temptation to think that if a lot of people reject some viewpoint that, therefore, it must be wrong. There is a Latin saying that goes like that " vox populi vox dei"(the voice of many, therefore the voice of God) but what about the reversal that " vox populi vox diabori"? (the voice of many, the voice of the devil). Numbers are not everything. We do not follow Jesus because he was popular, but because in the words of Peter in the gospel we recognize that he has the words of eternal life. How intolerable is the ideals of Jesus in our lives today? how intolerable to forgive? how intolerable to love our enemies, to love those who persecute us? to be in company with people who are not of our own culture, nation and color? how intolerable to  thus even in our time this teaching of Jesus has not yet found a way to penetrate our hearts.

Remember the parable of prodigal son? people felt sorry for that. What about the parable of men who worked all the day and who got the same wages as those who worked for the last hour in the vineyard? It should not be a surprise when we found ourselves struggling with some of what Jesus says in the scriptures.  In the Language of Prophet Isaiah, God's thoughts are not our thoughts; God's ways are not our ways.( Isaiah 55:8-9). It has been said that Jesus comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable. We all need Jesus to do both for us. We need his comforting and sustaining presence when we are afflicted, but sometimes we need his disturbing presence in our comfort.

The teaching and the life of Jesus will always challenge us at some level of our being. There are many even be times when we will feel like walking away from it. Thus it is important to keep on renewing and mending our ways and behaviors towards Jesus' invitation. When we receive the sacrament of Eucharist, it becomes the moment when we commit ourselves again to the Lord's vision for our lives; It is the time for us all to respond in the very words of Peter to Jesus in the gospel today, ' Lord to whom shall we go? You have the message of eternal life.' 

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Chapisha Maoni