To Stay On or To Go Away? | Word from the Shepherd 143

21st Ordinary Sunday B
Jos.24:1-2,15-18; Eph.5:21-32; Jn.6:60-69

Generally people measure success by numbers. It is a numbers game. The popularity of a TV programme is determined by the size of the viewing audience. In a democracy, it is the majority vote that counts. The big enrolments and the biggest number of graduate students are interpreted as the better schools. Even public opinions are decided by polls. Inversely, when the majority reject something, the masses assume that “the something must be wrong”.

But Jesus, Joshua nor Paul , were concerned about numbers. They were aware of complaints and complainers; of the many who were leaving; of the wavering and uncertain disciples and the unseeing people. Yet they were undeterred by numbers nor being popular. The value became the determinant of success. Both, Jesus, Joshua or Paul did not soften the message, the words or the truth. Their words were spirit and life.

From those days, people had always switched camps. Today the well known term in Malaysian politics is frogs and frogging culture. These frogs left:

  1. when they did not get they wanted, or
  2. when they came with fixed expectations, or
  3. when things were not easy, or
  4. when they came with shallow faith.

Whether they were the Hebrews of Joshua’s time or Jesus’s time, the words, the teachings or doctrines challenged or disturbed them. They did not see God, nor the message of eternal life. In any community, there are three types of people:

  1. those who cause things to happen, they stay.
  2. those who watch things happening, eventually go away
  3. those who don’t know what is happening, may follow the crowd or go shopping

Steadfastness is the mark of followers or disciples. It begins with

  1. renewing our response to the Lord’s invitation;
  2. decide and “choose who we want to serve”;
  3. resignedly admit “ to whom can we go… You have the message of eternal life”.

Following Christ begins with a “complaining can’t “, a “whimpering can’t “, slowly it becomes a “apprehensive can” and finally it changes to a”cooperative can”. We can stay and grow in the truth, and allow the Lord to unveil and reveal or go away looking for quick-fix.