21st Sunday O T Year B – 2018
To Whom Shall We Go? John 6:60-69
I believe it was Winston Churchill who said, “Democracy is a terrible form of government.” But then he added, “There is no other form that is better.” Sometimes our best choice is far from perfect.
We end up choosing something really does not please us, but we do so precisely because no better options are available.
This seems to be the situation with Peter in today’s gospel. Many people are finding that Jesus’ teaching is difficult, hard to accept. So they are leaving.
They are no longer traveling in his company. Jesus asks Peter, “Do you also want to leave?” and Peter says, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
The story is told about three priests who started discussing their common problem of how to get rid of bats in their churches.
The first priest said he once took a shotgun and fired at them, but to no avail. The second one said he trapped them alive and released them outside, but they came back.
The third priest said, he no longer had a problem in his church. They asked how he solved it, he said: “I simply baptized them and confirmed them, and I haven’t seen them in the church since then.”
Now let us go back to the gospel and let us notice, Peter is not affirming Jesus’ teaching. He is not saying that he is happy with it. He understands why so many people are leaving, but he is going to stay.
But he is not staying because he is excited about staying. He is going to stay because where else can he go.
Even though Jesus’ teaching is difficult and troublesome, Peter knows that there is no better option available to him. Now the good news about today’s gospel is that Jesus lets Peter stay.
Even though Peter is unhappy, even though he finds the teaching difficult, Jesus is willing to accept Peter as a disciple on those terms.
Peter can remain a disciple even though the only reason he is staying is because he does not have a better place to go.
We can be disciples of Jesus even though we are discouraged, even though we have doubts, even though we are afraid.
When troubles in our family continue to disrupt our lives, when our health deteriorates, when people whom we love make decisions that wound us, it does not mean that our faith is misplaced or that God is not God.
It is a reminder to us that God’s ways are often unclear and frequently burdensome. The troubles and difficulties of our life tell us that faith is as much about persevering as it is about celebrating and much more about trusting than understanding.
Brothers and sisters with this reflection on today’s word of God, now I would like to take your attention to the mission appeal of this year.
Today I am here not only as your associate pastor but also representing my Missionary Order.
First and foremost, on behalf of our Missionary Order, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to our Diocese for the continued support given to the Missionaries around the world.
In particular, I would like to thank Rev. …………, our pastor and all of you, my parishioners for giving me an opportunity to come over to your parish to share about our Congregation and our missionary work.
The Congregation of the Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales (in short MSFS), also known as Fransalians, is an International Religious Order, spread out in 24 countries.
The Order was founded in 1838 at Annecy, France, by the servant of God, Fr. Peter Marie Mermier, under the patronage of St. Francis de Sales and Mother of Sorrows.
The charism of the Fransalians is to live the spirit and spirituality of St. Francis de Sales which consists of “doing everything by love, and nothing by force.”
The main apostolates of Fransalians are Christian renewal, education, and pioneering evangelization. Imbibing the spirit of joyful and gentle optimism of St. Francis de Sales, the Fransalians take the good news of Jesus to people everywhere, particularly to the non-Christian territories of the world.
Although our founder wanted to send missionaries to Africa immediately after founding the Order, the Holy See entrusted to him a vast territory in India for missionary work.
The first batch of missionaries consisting of 6 members arrived in India in 1845. As of today, about 30 dioceses have been erected from those original mission territories evangelized by the Fransalian missionaries.
In the course of time, the Fransalian missionaries spread out to other countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, North America, and South America.
The dream of the founder to do missionary work in Africa was fulfilled when the Fransalian missionaries took up missions in Africa in the 1980s.
Today, the Fransalians serve the local churches in nine countries in Africa. In India and Africa, Fransalian missionaries strive to bring the good news of Jesus to the poor and those who have not heard about Jesus.
Today, our priests number around 1400 and we have 400 professed members soon to become priests. There are 10 provinces, 2 regions, and other independent missions.
In the United States, there are 56 of us and in Canada 6 of us serving in various dioceses. We are fortunately blessed with many vocations in India, Africa, and the Philippines.
Altogether, there are about 900 seminarians getting their priestly training at various places all over the world. The future of our missions depends on the continuous availability of new members.
Your generous support is vital in getting the new and young members trained and formed to be priests to continue the mission of our congregation in particular, and that of the Universal Church in general.
It is for this training and formation of our young seminarians in our congregation that I am appealing to you for your generous help.
To whom shall we go other than you my dear people of God…….
Our missionary work depends on your prayer and support. I assure you of our prayerful support. And you all will be specially remembered in our daily masses, celebrated in all our missions.
May God bless you and all you do for God’s people!
Be blessed and be a blessing. Amen.