Sermon Notes for Homilists and Religion Teachers. Embargo: Catholics are welcome to read after Noon, Sunday
August 24, 2003 John 6: 60-69 21 Sunday (Yr. B)
Also while on furlough, I visited one of my friends in New York. He and his wife were excellent Catholic parents. They have five children. The youngest child is 16 and the oldest is 26. These parents took their children to Mass every Sunday as well as to Catechism classes. They tried to live the Faith and give their children a good example. Yet two of the children no longer attend Mass on Sunday. Another of the children married a man with an alcohol dependency and is now divorced. Another son is now “living in” with his girlfriend.” My cousin asked me: “What should we have done differently?”
I said: “I am sorry. I can’t answer that question. Since I am a priest, I am not married and don’t have any firsthand experience with problems of this nature. Yet I know this matter troubles you and many parents in Hong Kong.”
Luckily, today Jesus gives us some hints. John, the author of today’s gospel, was a “young adult”. It is likely that at that time, St. John was still a teenager. We are grateful to John because he remembered how Jesus dealt with his apostles. He tells us about it in today’s gospel from John 6:60-69. Maybe it will be a help to the parents of St. Patrick’s Church.
Invitations Jesus didn’t ask for volunteers. He said: “Come follow me.” Jesus extended invitations to young people. Jesus knew that sometimes young adults feel happy when is called by name and asked to carry a substantial responsibility.
Moreover Jesus’ invitations included challenges. Remember the shocking challenge he gave the rich the young rich fellow who asked: “Besides keeping the commandments, what else can I do?” Jesus didn’t answer: “Say an extra Rosary each day.” No, Jesus said: “Sell all that you have. Give to the poor. Follow me.” The poor fellow almost fainted! Then went away. But there would be many young men and women in history who would take the challenge. They literally “Sold everything. Gave it to the poor. And followed Jesus.” Perhaps there is some young person right here in Wang Tau Hom who wants to hear this kind of challenge. This young person might not even be a Christian. It would be a shame if there was no one to challenge him/her.
The adults of St. Patrick’s community need to ask: “Are we giving our young people real challenges or just “nickel and dime” challenges?”
“That’s the Kind of Man/Woman I Am.”(Song) At this time, the apostles knew the kind of man Jesus was. He was a great person to be with. Moreover Jesus was a man who knew where he was going and was determined to go. Of course, as with every young adult, it wasn’t easy for Jesus to become a mature adult. He had to continuously struggle to know himself. …To discover the unshakable principles which guided his actions. He had to go into the desert mountain to grapple with the future. But in so doing he became the person who knew his mission, his destination and what he had to do to get there. (Young people need these kinds of role models.)
Now at this point in his life, Jesus knew he had to go to Jerusalem to suffer and die to complete his mission. There was no doubt that the next day Jesus would head for Jerusalem even if all the apostles turned back. There was never a question of Jesus saying: “If you don’t go with me to Jerusalem, I won’t go.”
(Our young people need parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, neighbors who can say to the young adults with honest pride: “That’s the Kind of Man/Woman I Am.”)
Respectful of Freedom Jesus said: “Do you want to leave me too?” Like all conscientious parents, Jesus did the best he could to train his apostles. They had witnessed Jesus exciting sermons and miracles. Jesus and the apostles had jolly evenings of conversation and “horsing around.” They also had a taste of opposition and rejection. Today’s gospel narrates the climax of Jesus’ failure: “From this time on, many of his disciples broke away and would not remain in his company any longer.” (Jn 6:66) Liked Catholic parents today, Jesus must have said: “Where did I go wrong? What should I have done differently.” It was a sad day for Jesus and the Twelve.
The moment of decision has arrived. Jesus looked at his young apostles. They were depressed and frightened. Perhaps they were even angry because Jesus did not perform another “big whopper” miracle and astound the skeptics.
Yet, Jesus respected the freedom of the apostles. He wanted each one to consult his conscience. Nor did Jesus badger the Twelve to follow him to Jerusalem. He did not want them to lay a guilt trip on them. Jesus didn’t make a face and say to the Twelve: “After all I have done for you, if you don’t go with me to Jerusalem, you are disloyal and ungrateful.” No, Jesus wanted the Twelve, each one individually, to make the decision whether or not to follow him to Jerusalem. Jesus didn’t want anyone to follow him reluctantly (“min5 k’eung5).” If the apostles had said: “No, we don’t want to go with you,” Jesus would have been sad but he would have respected their decision. (Would it have been better had Judas decided NOT to follow Jesus to Jerusalem!) Jesus would still have loved each one just as much as before. Jesus would have given each one a hug and would have said with sadness: “Please, come back from time to time and
tell me how you are doing. If you ever need a companion on the road, I’ll be here.” The gospel tells us that this is the kind of person Jesus is and how he treated young adults.
RESPONSE May I ask the adults in Church this morning to ask the young man or woman sitting next to you: “Do you also want to go away?”
May I ask the young men and women to ask the adult sitting next to you: “What kind of man/woman are you? Where are you going? Is your life challenging and fulfilling? What challenges are your facing right now? What questions still trouble you?”
Then the adult should answer as best he or she can.
[Allow a few minutes for dialogue or private reflection?]
FINALE Are the adults in St. Patrick’s community constantly struggling to discover what is required to follow Jesus? Are the adults in St. Patrick’s community determined to follow Jesus even to Jerusalem if necessary. Do the adults of St. Patrick’s community challenge our young people to do heroic kinds of things? Is there some young man or woman here in Church this morning or in your own home who awaits your personal invitation to be a missioner, a lay-minister, sister, brother or priest?
PASTORAL NOTES ON 21 Sunday
August 24, 2003 John 6: 60-69 21 Sunday (Yr. B)
ONE WORD: Young adults
THEME: We learn from Jesus how to approach young adults.
TEXT: “Then Jesus said to the Twelve, ‘Do you want to leave me too?” John 6: 67.
“Then Joshua said to all the people: ‘…choose today whom you wish to serve.” Joshua 24: 1-2, 15-18.
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH: #520 “In all of his life Jesus presents himself as our model. He is the ‘perfect man,’(191) who invites us to become his disciples and follow him.”
ISSUE: This sermon treats of an issue that it seems many Catholic families both in the U.S. and in Hong Kong are experiencing. There are no easy answers. But perhaps in giving this gospel a good “chew”, we will find answers.
SUMMARY: Adults Christians have a responsibility to young adults. We will explain Jesus’ approach to young adults. Like every adult, Jesus had to search to discover who he was and his mission in life. After a struggle, Jesus discovered his identity (the person he was), the principles by which he would live, the goals he would pursue and gave us an example of determination. He set out for Jerusalem. Jesus invited the young adults to join him if they wished. Jesus did not apply pressure to get the apostles to follow him.
Desired Result: As a result of last Sunday’s sermon, I had a chat with my son. I apologized to him. It was one of the most difficult things I ever did. He is nineteen. I often use ridicule and nagging to try to get him to change and go to Church more. The last time, he asked me a question, I gave him a twenty minute lecture. I realized that I had not been treating him the way Jesus treated his apostles.
Being chosen: I remember how happy I was when my grammar school teacher chose me among all the other students and asked me to erase the blackboard.
To review, the young adults in our parish need many mature adult Christian role models. Just one father and just one mother are insufficient role models in our Hong Kong society. A role model has principles by which he/she lives his/her life. A role model know where he/she is going—the destination.
CHEWING THE WORD OF GOD
August 24, 2003 John 6: 60-69 21 Sunday (Yr. B)
“A homily that is not chewed and digested is a waste.”
21 Sunday (B)August 27, 2000 Name_________
1. At the end of today’s gospel, how many followers did Jesus have? ______
2. In all of his life Jesus presents himself as our m_____. He is the ‘perfect man,’(191) who i______ us to become his d________ and f_______him.”
3. In the first reading Joshua says to the people: “c________ today whom you wish to s________.”
4. (Write on other side.)Why do you think that the young adults didn’t join the church’s summer camp? What advice would you give to the parish leaders?
5. (Optional) (Write on other side) As a young adult, tell about a role model person who influenced you? What did this person teach you about life? (For this question, you may not use Jesus or Mary as your example.)