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21st Sunday

Look around and you will notice the proliferation of sects and cults around. They have one target:  to convert Catholics into their ranks.  They visit homes, preach and distribute pamphlets to convince us to join them. What is the reason for their drive in attracting Catholics?  They are conscious that in the Philippines, we are numerous and for them to add to their number, the first source is naturally this large community of believers.  They are also much aware that though we are many, Catholics are weak in knowing and living their faith.

They know that our Church is vulnerable and weak today; we live through many crises and dissensions among us.  They know that shocking rumors, with or without bases, abound in our Church. Many Catholics are disenchanted and disheartened by their own Church and so are very vulnerable to attempts at conversion.

But come to think of it, are Church crises and scandals modern affairs? Have we been exposed to shocking revelations and alarming discoveries only too late? The Gospel today shows that in fact, since the earliest times, followers of the Lord have already been scandalized – even by the Lord Himself! Let us continue reflecting on John’s account of the teachings of Jesus on the Eucharist.  When Jesus insisted that His disciples must eat His body and drink His blood, people were confused.  Some even left and stopped believing in the Lord.

The question Jesus posed to His disciples was incisive and strong:  do you also want to leave?  And the reply of Peter was likewise very noteworthy: Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of everlasting life.  For the disciples who decided to remain, the words of Jesus is that which gives meaning and direction to life.  Apart from the Lord, there is simply no sense to life.

We find ourselves in church every Sunday.  We see each other here.  At times, I am tempted to ask you:  given the many Catholics who are leaving the Church, do you also want to leave?  But I seem to know the answer in your heart:  we are here for Jesus. We are here because we believe He is here for us and he gives us His own Body and Blood for our strength and courage in daily life.

There are many shocking revelations and confusing situations even in our Church but we know that these will always happen as long as the Church is composed of weak human beings.  We are not a perfect community. But in spite of all these, Jesus does not abandon His faithful ones.

We pray for success in our struggles to build a better Church on earth because the perfect Church can only be found in heaven.  Though there are many weaknesses in our community, this is still the Body of Christ and the anchor of our faith.  All because, Jesus is here and we are here trying to follow Him faithfully. In receiving His body, we are assured of His presence and power.