XXI Sunday in Ordinary Time
Saint Louis King of France Parish, Memphis, TN
Fr. Carlos Donato – Homily
“Master, to whom shall we go?”
My beloved brothers and Sisters, today God is asking from us an answer to some existential questions. He wants to know to whom we want to serve and to whom we must go to receive the Word who gives us the Eternal Life. On the first reading from the book of Joshua we have the essential question: where you want to go and to whom you want to devote your life and your worship? While Israel was journeying in to the promised land they walk in many different peoples and cultures which brought inside of their own tribes some confusion of identity and belonging. Some tribes started to worship the false gods and also to do not trust in the Lord God. It was so visible, like the elephant in the room, that Joshua decided to assemble the people and ask them: “If it does not please you to serve the Lord, decide today whom you will serve, and he continues “The gods your fathers served beyond the river or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are now dwelling?” (Jos 24). Israel must decide now! It is the time of a crucial decision that will mark their lives forever.
Because the Word of God is always alive and actual God is also asking to us now: “To whom do you want to go and to serve?” There are many gods in our present world that want to take God’s place. These gods are the hedonism, nihilism, egocentrism and many more. While they are worshiped they give to their worshipers the false idea of truth, happiness and the freedom. These idols created by human beings have been waiting to be worshiped and unfortunately, many of us have already burned offerings on their altars. As a consequence of the sin of idolatry, the felling of emptiness, impotence, and sadness come to our hearts and minds. All those feelings are a fallowing up of our egocentrism and our own will to be like God. It is our mistake to think that we are God alike. We are not a superman or a superwoman a self-sufficient creature. We need transcendence, we need God. Only on him our lives have sense to be. Without God we lost the sense of own lives.
Brethren, our immediate answer to God must be the same answer of Joshua “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. There is not another way to have happiness than do the will of God and serve him. him who is our first and final cause. As Israel we also do see every day the great miracles before our eyes: “Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God” (Jos 24).
On the Gospel today, even though the disciples had seen the multiplication of the bread, the walk on the waters and listening the discourse of the Bred of Life, they are not able yet to understand who is Jesus or to make their minds in the follow up of him.
Even though, many miracles are made, they could not understand the idea to eat Jesus body and drink Jesus blood. They still thinking materially while Jesus is talking about spiritual things. In addition, there is also a cultural shock in Jesus’ words. For the Jewish culture blood means life and Jesus is telling them to drink his blood? Yes, Jesus is! Jesus is inviting them to take part on his divine life. Many disciples got confused and left the Lord. The gospel says: “as a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life” (Jn 6).
After some had left Jesus starts to ask the twelve “Do you also want to leave?” (Jn 6). He is also asking us now in this times of distress do want also to leave? Are you going back to your former life? Are you going to leave the church? What are you going to do with your life? What is your answer? The one use by the great crowd which was leave Jesus or the answer of Peter: “Master, to whom shall we Go? You have the words of eternal life” (Jn 6).
This week we celebrate our patron saint: Saint Louis IX, king of France. And he is the model for us of a person that gives his life as a constant positive answer to God. Despite of his titles of nobility and king he knew that the only true king and Lord is God. And only to him we must serve and fallow. Saint Louis with his life shows us how we can say with our own lives that Jesus is the Holy One of God the Word of Eternal life.
Saint Louis is also the good husband described by saint Paul in the second reading as a lover of his wife with whom he had eleven children. He knows that he was called to continue the grace of creation and to show forth through his marriage the love between the church and Jesus reflected in the love between husband and wife.
Saint Louis loved the church and realized be one of his duty as a king to protect the holy places in Jerusalem that was in the hands of no Christians. Because of that he convoked a crusade to free the holy land. He died during the II crusade. He died fighting for the great glory of God.
King Louis also recognizing his call to holiness living his life in penance and prayer as a third Franciscan order member. He was known throughout his kingdom as an austere, prayerful and frugal man. In him we can find a life lived according to the values of the Gospel. There is no doubt that he and his household served the Lord fallowing Jesus the only one who has word of eternal life.
Brethren, after listening to God’s word and contemplate the life of our celestial patron Saint, Louis IX, of France we must ask ourselves what can we do to fallow Jesus more closed? How can I believe and proclaim with my life that only Jesus is the one who has word of Eternal life? And finally, with Saint Louis how can I and my household serve the Lord better every single day that we can say with Saint Peter: “We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God” (Jn 6).