Called to be Christians, disciples and followers of Jesus Christ, we are the new people of God. On that note, the Old Testament events in our salvation history, help us to better understand and appreciate the great privileges we have. In our first reading today, after the people of God had each settled in his or her assigned portion, tribe by tribe in the Promised Land, Joshua the son of Nun gathered together in a great assembly all the tribes of Israel at Shechem. When they stood in ranks before God, he addressed them reminding them of their history and what the Lord had done for them. For those God’s favors, he asked them to fear the Lord and serve him completely and sincerely, If it does not please them to serve the Lord, they should decide whom they should serve. As for him and his household, they would serve the Lord. The people answered that they would not forsake the Lord, the God who brought them out of the land of slavery, who performed those great miracles before their very eyes and protected them along their entire journey among all the peoples through whom they passed, who at their approach drove out all the peoples who dwelt in the land. For those reasons, they too would serve the Lord, their God (Joshua 24:1-2, 15-17, 18).
By this, Joshua not only led the people into the Promised Land, he also led them to renew the covenant with their God, which would display the two-fold dynamic of backing their word with sacrifice; bringing them in their listening to proper response, making their memorial into a true renewal.
As followers of Christ, the same is applicable to us in our liturgical celebrations in which we gather, we listen to God’s word, and receive the Eucharist. Through the liturgy of the word and the liturgy of the Eucharist, we celebrate, commemorate, and renew our covenant with our God, made in baptism.
In our religious and existential life and commitment it is one thing to believe, and another thing to practice. Orthodoxy and orthopraxis must go hand in hand, This is what Joshua wanted to point out to the Israelites. If they are to be the people of God, they, too must live it out in their lives and actions, The same thing is applicable to us called to be the Disciples of Christ. We are called to live out in our lives what it means to be Christians, with all its implications and demands.
We can observe this fact in our gospel reading today. Many of the Disciples of Jesus, while following him, could not accept his teaching that unless we eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, we do not have life within us; that whoever eats his flesh and drinks his blood has eternal life, and he will raise him on the last day. Those Disciples considered it as a hard talk to endure that his flesh is true food, and his blood is true drink, which will make anyone, who eats his flesh and who drinks his blood to remain in him and he in that one. They did not want to hear that just as the living Father sent him and he has life because of the Father, so also, the one who feeds on him will have life because of him, who is the bread that came down from heaven.
With the difficulty of some of those Disciple to accept Jesus’ teaching, he tells us that it is spirit that gives life, while the flesh is no avail. His words are spirit and life. As a result of the difficulty to accept his teaching, Jesus emphasizes that no one can come to him unless it is granted him by his heavenly Father. As many of his disciples left, and returned to their former ways of life and no longer accompanied him, he asked the twelve whether they also wanted to leave, Simon Peter’s answer was: “Master to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and we are convinced that you are the Holy One of God (John 6:60-69).
From here we come to the realization that, to be followers of Christ we must not pick and choose what to believe and practice and what not to believe and practice. True followers of Christ, accept and live out all its implications starting from the self and family life. For that reason, St. Paul extends the practice of the faith into families for husbands and wives to imitate Jesus Christ himself, in his relationship with him, and in the Church’s relationship with Christ (Ephesians 5:21-32). In our prayers today, let us ask God to grant us the spirit and grace to live out our religion in our lives and so be happy.