Striving for Deeper Holiness: August 22, 2021

PASTOR’S WEEKLY SPIRITUAL MESSAGE

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

This is the homily for August 22nd. Hi everybody. Friends, blessings from Saint Clement's. To whom shall we go? This is the question that Peter asked of Jesus when Jesus turns to him asking if he and the other disciples also want to leave him. We are at the very end of the sixth chapter of John's Gospel. In that chapter, Jesus revealed who he is. It's one of those eight "I am" statements that I talked about before. Jesus says, "I am the bread of life," and people just don't quite like it. They cannot get it. They don't understand how he can give them his flesh to eat, his blood to drink. It's such an obscure idea to them that most of his disciples, John tells us, left Jesus and returned to their former way of life.

And yet Peter and the others, the Twelve, even though maybe they don't quite understand the concepts, they don't know how things will happen yet, yet with openness they recognize in Jesus the Messiah, and they recognize the power of the community that brings them together around him. And because of that, they decide to stay connected to Jesus and connected to one another as an early church that Jesus formed. In just the same way in our world, we are tempted at times when we disagree with something that the Church says, or we don't like something, to kind of step back or step away and say, "Well, it's not for me. It doesn't fit my schedule or my imagination." And in that, the word of God comes with really helpful advice, because it comes as an invitation for us to engage in knowing that Jesus is the Messiah, that his promise is a promise also to us to invite us into the community that is life-giving and a community in which we are co-responsible for one another to live out the values of the Gospel that Jesus left us. 

And so my invitation do you is in the time of struggle and difficulty, whether you go through a dry moment in your faith or whether you hear something or see something in the Church's organization that you don't like, that rather than like the other disciples who left, you actually come even closer to Jesus, that you start looking more deeply into Jesus's teaching, that you find a group of disciples who will support you, nourish you, and who will help you not only to stay connected, but stay as part of the loving story of the Church that Jesus established.

And so that's why here at Saint Clement throughout this summer, we try to do all we can to engage you and invite you into making a next step in your faith journey, whether it's through our social events, whether it's through our opportunities to serve, or whether it is through our courses. This fall, as you know, we'll offer Alpha. We'll offer a marriage enrichment program. We'll offer a way for you to engage in learning more about Jesus through "The Chosen" series that is starting this week. There are so many ways in which you can make a next step not only in getting to know Jesus more deeply, but then growing in the loving community that we hope we offer together to one another and to others. And so my invitation to you is to simply discern what is God calling you to do and what's the right step for you to make in order to find yourself rooted and grounded in the Church and anchored in the community that we love so much. God bless you all!