August 26, 2012 – Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

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Imagine a world without iPhones, without GPS devices, without Google Maps and without the Internet. I promise such a world once existed, not really all that long ago. About 15 years ago, I spent an afternoon more or less lost in Seattle, Washington. I was drifting around town during some free time with some college friends on a choir tour. We wandered around a couple different neighborhoods, not really knowing exactly where we were, but not too anxious about it either – the 605-foot-tall Space Needle was always in view, and so we could always orient ourselves on our map and find our way to our next destination. Even without the gadgets and the connectivity that is everywhere today, we could always determine the next best step to take by keeping our eye on the Space Needle and referring to the map for guidance.

Today’s Gospel passage comes at the end of Jesus’ Bread of Life discourse. He has been teaching His growing following that He Himself is the Bread of Life and that we must eat His flesh and drink His blood to achieve eternal life. The large numbers fall away at hearing this difficult teaching, leaving Jesus with just the twelve apostles. Jesus asks if they, too, will desert him. Simon Peter, who on other occasions shows he is slow to learn his Master’s teachings, has a flash of brilliance, whether or not he realizes it: “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that You are the Holy One of God.” To Simon Peter and the apostles, Jesus was for them what the Space Needle was for my friends and me that afternoon — that beacon which, as long as it was always in sight, provided direction and security.

Jesus must always be that for all Christians – we must always be sure Jesus and His teachings are always visible and known to us so that we may know we’re on the right path. And just like we had a map that afternoon in Seattle to also help us find our way, Christians have a map too – the Bible, to help us find our way through life. We had to open up our map every once in a while, to read and closely examine it, to find ourselves in it, and locate our next destination. We should do the same with our sacred scripture – read it closely, find ourselves in its’ stories and teachings, and most importantly, figure out our next destination on our journey with Christ. One last thought — on our journeys that day, my friends and I did have to stop and ask for directions once, and even took a taxi at the end of the afternoon so that we wouldn’t be late to our next rehearsal. So too, we Christians shouldn’t be afraid to ask others for help and guidance on our journeys when we really need it. Our iPhones and the internet can really only get us so far these days. Make sure to maintain real connections with your friends, your family, and with Jesus. Our gadgets and social networks are meaningless without them! When we keep our eyes on Jesus, read the scriptures, and are an active part of our Christian community, only then can we, like Peter, recognize Christ’s place in our lives, and not be afraid to share the Good News with the entire world.

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