Does This Shock You? Wk 1 Invite
Welcome to the first week of our message series we call Does this Shock you.
Sometimes the things Jesus says can be very challenging to the point that we have some sort of startled response mentally or even physically. We are shocked. In that scripture passage we just heard, Jesus asks his disciples, and us, point blank, does what I am saying shock you? Does this shock you?!! Some people are so shocked they chose to no longer follow Jesus.
Between our first reading and the gospel we hear of two groups of people faced with the choice to follow the world or follow the Lord, and both groups offer us incredible examples to follow.
In the first reading, Joshua challenges the people to choose between the idols that so many were worshiping and the one true God, insisting they could not serve both. And the people wholeheartedly assured him, “we will serve the Lord, for he is our God.” Like the Israelites following Joshua into the promised land, we too are God’s chosen people walking toward the true promised land. Through baptism all of you were made members of God’s new chosen people. Through your baptism God has promised you eternal possession of the true promised land — heaven — provided we keep our part of the covenant, that is if we remain faithful to his laws during our days on earth.
At our confirmation we renewed this covenant and promised to be loyal to Christ, even if loyalty to Jesus brings us suffering and difficulty. We live in a world today that is ungodly and un-christian. This makes it all the harder for God’s loyal people, you, to live your religious life to the full. In today’s crazy world, can you, as Joshua did, answer by saying: As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord, for HE is our God.
Jesus presents a similar challenge to his disciples. He has concluded his Bread of Life Discourse, announcing to the people that he is the Son of God, the Living Bread come down from heaven, insisting that they must eat his flesh and drink his blood in order to have life in him. And, understandably so, many found his claims impossible to accept. Many walked away. How could this man be who he claimed to be — the Son of God — when clearly they could see he was only human, a mere man?
How could he insist that they must eat his flesh and drink his blood? Yet, Jesus insisted. He did not back down. Living the life of a Christian disciple required a leap of faith, it required living by faith, so he let those, who chose to walk away, walk away. Then he posed a question to the twelve men he hand selected to follow him. He asked them “Do you also want to leave?”
They had the choice. Jesus wanted them to choose him, to live for him, to bear witness to him and the truth of the gospel, but it was their choice. The same applies to us today. We are called to be true Christian disciples, to live lives of love and service to the Lord, bearing witness to who he is, the Son of God, and the truth he proclaims.
Yet, this calling is a difficult one. Living it out requires great faith and commitment to put Jesus before all else, even when it’s not the popular thing to do, even when others around us choose differently. We must make the choice. Sometimes it seems like we must choose every day because we encounter temptations to live outside our Lord’s way of life every day.
Can we wholeheartedly exclaim as Joshua did, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”?!! Do we recognize, like Peter did in the gospel, that Jesus is the one with the words of eternal life, that Jesus promises so much more than the world does? If so, there is yet another challenge that today’s readings present to us. Do we live out that choice, day in and day out, putting Christ before all else, even in the face of adversity and ridicule?
God offers us the gift of faith. Jesus, his Son, offers us THE GIFT OF LIFE. He is the Bread of Life who gives us his body to eat in Holy Communion. Many of his followers were so shocked that he equated himself with God and offered his body to eat, that they left him. They were shocked and scandalized. What about you and me? Do we truly believe that bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ? That is what Jesus tells us.
“Does it shock you” that Jesus’ gift would be so simple? We just have to believe him. “Does it shock you” that he gives what he receives from the Father and holds nothing back? “Does it shock you” that we who receive him in Holy Communion receive everything, in his body and blood? “Does it shock you” that his gift of himself in Communion can calm our jittery hearts and tame our wandering desires? “Does it shock you” that HIS LIFE becomes OUR LIFE, and now we are sent to share Jesus with the world and give freely to others?
To receive Jesus can never be reduced to a merely intellectual exercise or only an affair of emotion. Jesus who receives everything from the Father, and offers everything back to the Father, gives himself to us: his body, his blood. To truly live means to open our hearts completely to him so that when we receive him in Communion we will be transformed by him.
How many of us have really chosen the Lord as the definer and shaper of our lives? There’s one way to find out. Track the pattern of your choices. Day in, day out, what do you usually choose? Here’s a rule for everyday life. Do not do anything which you cannot offer to God.
If you are restless, discontented, and sad, your heart is telling you that you’ve given it away to something far too small. Perhaps you have given your heart to the world. But if your heart is peaceful, even in the midst of turmoil, you can be sure your heart is resting in the Lord, who is slowly re-shaping you into his own likeness.
This is what we want you to know today: We are invited once more to choose whom we serve. Jesus invites us to follow him as the Son of God, not just a man. Jesus invites the disciples to believe and follow. It all started with Jesus’ simple invitation to follow him. Some were shocked and no longer followed. But many believed and accepted Jesus’ invitation to believe in him and stay close to him.
This is what we want you to do this week. Be like Jesus. Extend an invitation to someone to join you for Mass. Some may be shocked that you asked and not accept. But some will accept. Somebody is waiting to be invited. Jesus expects you to invite others. He says that elsewhere in the bible. Does THAT shock you? Will you walk away from the challenge to invite others? I hope not. Be like Jesus. Just invite them. Let God do the rest.