GOD’S LOVING PLAN FOR OUR LIVES
(A biblical reflection on the 21st SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME [Year B] – 22 August 2021)
Gospel Reading: John 6:60-69
First Reading: Joshua 24:1-2,15-18; Psalms: Psalm 34:2-3,16-23; Second Reading: Ephesians 5:21-32
The Scripture Text
Many of His disciples, when they heard it, said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, knowing in Himself that His disciples murmured at it, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of man ascending where He was before? It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you that do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who those were that did not believe, and who it was that should betray Him. And He said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to Me unless it is granted him by the Father.”
After this many of His disciples drew back and no longer went about with Him. Jesus said to the twelve, “Will you also go away?” Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that You are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:60-69 RSV)
Joshua, the Old Testament leader commissioned by God to bring His people into the Promised Land, has some things in common with Peter, the fisherman chosen by Jesus to lead His Church. Both men knew what it meant to follow God when the going got rough. Joshua heard the people murmur and grumble against God during their desert wanderings. Peter heard other disciples complain that Jesus’ statements about “bread of life” were too difficult to accept (John 6:60). Yet both men realized that God was at work in the powerful things they had witnessed: Joshua had seen the Israelites’ deliverance from slavery in Egypt; Peter, the healings and miracles worked by Jesus. Each leader expressed this conviction in a ringing declaration of faith (Joshua 24:15; John 6:68-69).
“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). Perhaps this first part of Peter’s statement recalls the time before he met Jesus – a period of emptiness and helplessness, with little sense of God’s presence and power.
Through Jesus, Peter had come to know God’s love, faithfulness, and mercy. He also came to realize that Jesus spoke with God’s own authority and power, moving receptive hearts from unbelief to belief through His miraculous healings, calming the storms, and raising of the dead. As a conscientious witness to these wonders, Peter could only declare: “We have believed, and have come to know that You are are the Holy One of God” (John 6:69).
Just as He did for Joshua and Peter, God wants to show Himself to us. He wants to convince us that He has a loving plan for our lives. What’s really exciting is that when God does pour out His grace upon us and reveal His love to us, it changes our hearts forever. His revelation becomes so deeply embedded in our hearts that we begin to look upon it as a great treasure, something we will want to hold dear and never compromise – just as Peter and Joshua did when the going got rough.
Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, You are the Holy One who loves, hears, and rescues me. I believe Your words. I will follow You always, for You give me abundant life that overflows to eternity. Amen.
Jakarta, 21 August 2021
A Christian Pilgrim