Pastor's Desk: 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
Welcome everyone; today our readings present us with a fundamental question: “Whom will you serve?” Joshua poses this question in the First Reading when he confronts the people of God who are straying away from the Lord and following gods of the Amorites. All twelve tribes of Israel are present for that challenge from Joshua and it has the desired effect, they recommit themselves to the Lord, the God of their ancestors. As they enter the Promised Land after their exile in Egypt, this recommitment endorses the covenants entered into by Moses and their ancestors.
In the Gospel we hear grumbling among the followers of Jesus. We are finishing our reading of John chapter 6, and the teaching of Jesus throughout this chapter, that He is the Bread of Life and that the people must eat His flesh and drink His blood, just becomes too much for some of the people. It is important to point out that the ones who walk away from Jesus are not just “hangers on” or people who have just joined up: the passage says, “many of his disciples left him and stopped going with him.” These were committed followers but now they part ways with Jesus. It must have been a sufficiently devastating event that John records it in his gospel. It also causes Jesus to challenge His closest collaborators, the twelve apostles, as to what are their intentions now, do they stay or do they too walk away? As ever, it is Peter who speaks first and answers for all when he says;
‘Lord, who shall we go to?
You have the message of eternal life,
and we believe;
we know that you are the Holy One of God.’
As we face the same challenging question about our own faith in Jesus Christ, can we echo the answer of Peter?
Since I came back from holidays I have been monitoring the situation in relation to Swine Flu and how it affects our liturgical gatherings in church. The two deaths from the H1N1 virus are a reminder of the deadly power of the virus and a tragedy for the families concerned. The advice from the HSE is that there should be no panic in relation to the virus. In fact, the experience of most people who got the flu is that it is very mild in comparison with the seasonal flu we get each winter and which can also be fatal for some sufferers. Vigilance is the operative word and the best advice is summed up below:
Catch it: Germs spread easily. Always carry tissues to catch your cough or sneeze.
Bin it: Germs can live for several hours on tissues so dispose of them after use.
Kill it: Hands can transfer germs to every surface you touch; regular hand washing will remove germs.
If I hear any new advice from the HSE or the diocese, I will revisit our liturgical arrangements. Have a great week.