Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 26, 2018 Cycle C
Fr. José Maria Cortex, F.S.C.B.

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In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.  “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.”

This quotation from Paul VI tells us a very important truth. Who was really significant in our own personal growth? When I recall the people who influenced me the most, they were all witnesses. In my life, I learned the most important things from witnesses. I still have grateful memories of people who shared what they lived. Such witnesses could be our parents, relatives, teachers, catechists, friends etc.

In today’s first reading, Joshua speaks to all the tribes of Israel. Moses’ successor had to convince the people to follow the Lord instead of other gods. Joshua said that there was a choice to be made. They had to choose between the true God and false idols. How did he do this? He gave them his own testimony, saying: “As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord” (Jos 24:15). Moved by his example, the people answered: “We also will serve the Lord, for he is our God” (Jos 24:24).

Joshua challenged the people and invited them to take a risk. They had to choose. It was their choice. At the same time, he presented his own example, proclaiming his decision to all.

I sometimes hear people with educational responsibilities, such as parents and teachers, express concerns about how to educate those entrusted to them.

First of all, the educator has to be someone who is searching for the truth himself. A true educator is someone who witnesses his personal discovery of the truth, something greater than himself.

Then the educator has to take a risk with those entrusted to him. Joshua took a risk with the people of God. They could have said “no” instead of “yes.” In education, personal freedom is really important.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is rejected by almost all of his disciples, who said: “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” (Jn 6:60). Jesus took a risk with them by announcing the truth and they rejected him: “… many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him” (Jn 6:66). However, Jesus did not stop there. Then he said to the Twelve: “Do you also want to leave?” (Jn 6:67). Jesus risked everything. Our freedom is really important to him. He is not afraid to lose people. The truth entrusted to him by the Father is the most important thing that he has to propose. When we must educate, we cannot compromise the truth for fear of losing people.

When Jesus asks the apostles if they also want to leave, there is a great silence in the synagogue of Capernaum. The silence is broken by Peter, who says, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (Jn 6:68). Peter says that he is not leaving because he has found the meaning of his life in Jesus. Christ is the witness to what is really important. Without that which he witnesses, life makes no sense.

“Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.”

Let us ask today for the grace of finding witnesses at every moment of our lives to help us walk the path of life.  Amen.

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