20th Sunday Ordinary Times (B)

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

In a debating class, a teacher would present hypothetical situations to encourage his students to talk and argue for their position. One case would be, if you were in a sinking boat with your mother and your sister whom would you save? Or the situation can be modified such that a husband had his wife and daughter with him, whom would he save? The condition is that only one could be saved. With such a lively topic, even the most passive student in class puts in a word or two.

People who live in post-modern societies are faced with a variety of choices, whether it be in terms of products to buy, lifestyles to follow, careers to pursue, and even countries to settle in. Choosing your brand of toothpaste thirty years ago was not difficult when there were only two good brands to choose from. Today, even such a simple choice is difficult to make when we are faced with an array of brands on the grocery shelves. There is the story of the man who ordered some breakfast in a restaurant. He asked for eggs and the waiter asked him if he wanted it fried, scrambled, or boiled. “Never mind, just give me some doughnuts.” And the waiter asked if he wanted it with chocolate, strawberry, marmalade, or blueberry fillings. “Ok, any of those with coffee.” The waiter had to ask, “Espresso, cappuccino, or plain brewed coffee?” He was running out of patience, “Any ordinary coffee will do.” The waiter had to ask again, “With cream or without?” “Just give me my coffee and don’t forget the cream” the customer shouted. The waiter had to have the last word as he ran to the kitchen, “Is that coffee mate or plain milk?”

The standard talks on vocations twenty years ago speak of three choices: single life, married life, and religious life (priest, nun, brother). Nowadays, young people in the audience raise other possibilities of experiences. Why not try out trial cohabitation first before getting married. In this arrangement one is not quite single nor married. Or perhaps try the religious life for five years or so and then get married. Some young people suggest trying them all. From single life to religious life and eventually, end up in married life. Or one can begin married and end up single. If one gets married, why stick to the standard man-woman? There are other possibilities, man-man, woman-woman, or perhaps a three-way arrangement?

With a variety of products, careers and lifestyles to choose from, it is no wonder that people today find it difficult to make long-time commitments. One can always change his shampoo, hair color, job, cellphone number, address, and companion.

Notwithstanding this difficulty, even post-modern would-be disciples of the Lord Jesus have to make a clear choice when it comes to following Him. The gospel this Sunday tells the story of Jesus being rejected by some of his listeners due to his teachings. “As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him (John 6:67). When Jesus asked his apostles if they too would leave, Simon Peter answered him, “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 (John 6:68).” This decision of Peter echoes that of Joshua in the first reading, “Far be it from us to forsake the Lord for the service of other gods (Joshua 24:16).”

Peter may have some shortcomings such as his impulsive nature and at one time, his cowardice, but he made a choice for Jesus and he committed himself to that choice up to the end. The Lord Jesus saw this tenacity in Peter and He chose him to be the leader of the apostles, His vicar on earth and the first pope.

Action starter: Choose Jesus and His way. It is a choice you will not regret.