Sunday, August 23, 2015

21st Sunday of Ordinary Time

"Master, to whom shall we go? 
You have the words of eternal life."  
~Luke 6:68

“To whom shall we go?” Peter asks. In other words, “Who else will instruct us the way you do?” or, “To whom shall we go to find anything better?”

“You have the words of eternal life”; not hard words, as those other disciples say, but words that will bring us to the loftiest goal, unceasing, endless life removed from all corruption.

These words surely make quite obvious to us the necessity for sitting at the feet of Christ, taking him as our one and only teacher, and giving him our constant and undivided attention. He must be our guide who knows well how to lead us to everlasting life.

Thus, shall we ascend to the divine court of heaven, and entering the church of the first born, delight in blessings passing all human understanding.

That the desire to follow Christ alone and to be with him always is a good thing leading to our salvation is entirely self-evident; yet we may learn this from the Old Testament as well.

When the Israelites had shaken off Egyptian tyranny and were hastening toward the promised land, God did not allow them to make disorderly marches; nor did the lawgiver let each one go where he would, for without a guide they should undoubtedly have lost the way completely. They were ordered to follow: to set out with the cloud, to come to a halt again with it, and to rest with it.

Keeping with their guide was the Israelites’ salvation then, just as not leaving Christ is ours now. For he was with those people of old under the form of the tabernacle, the cloud, and the fire.

They were commanded to follow, and not undertake the journey on their own initiative. They were to halt with the cloud and to abide with it, that by this symbol you might understand Christ’s words: “Whoever serves me must follow me, so as to be with me wherever I am.”

For being always in his company means being steadfast in following him and constant in cleaving to him. But accompanying the Savior Christ and following him is by no means to be thought of as something done by the body. It is accomplished rather by deeds springing from virtue.

Upon such virtue the wisest disciples firmly fixed their minds and refused to depart with the unbelievers, which they saw would be fatal. With good reason they cried out, “Where can we go?”

It was as though they said: “We will stay with you always and hold fast to your commandments. We will receive your words without finding fault or thinking your teaching hard as the ignorant do, but thinking rather, "How sweet are your words to my throat! Sweeter to my mouth are they than honey or the honeycomb.”

St. Cyril of Alexandria, d. 444

You, O Lord!  You, You, and only You!

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