21st. Sunday in Ordinary Time

We have all heard the expression: ‘to burn ones boats’.  It probably has its origin in history.  Be it with Alexander the great in Grece or Hernan Cortes in Mexico.  An army has to make a critical decision;  do they go forward into the unknown or do they go back.  By burning their boats, they remain with no choice, by burning their boats they have to go forward.  The problem with this example is that they have no choice.  Whereas for a Christian, there is always a choice.  A Christian who makes a decision to follow Christ, does so freely, because he/she wants to.  The one who follows Jesus, does so because he/she wants to and he/she is free to do so.  In today’s gospel we have someone who is burning his boats.  It is St. Peter.  He has been following Jesus now for some time but now, this is the moment for a critical decision.  Should he now go forward or should he go back.  The gospel tells us that many other people have rejected Jesus and are now turning away.  What should Peter do?  He realises that following Jesus will not be easy.  It will be a difficult and lonely path.  He looks at Jesus and asks: ‘where should we go,  you have the words of eternal life’. Peter has burnt his boat and he will follow Jesus to the very end.  As we emerge from lockdown many people have decided not to follow Jesus or to follow him from a distance, or a webcam or TV which is not the same. Thankfully all of us gathered here are here, because we want to follow Jesus more closely. Many times we too will have to make critical decisions in our lives, in our work, in our families and in our own personal lives;  we too will have to burn our boats.  If we keep or eyes on Jesus, if we keep our hand in his hand,  then we will never have to fear, he is the way the truth and the life. In his own words he has assured us: ‘be not afraid I am with you always’. I remember a lovely song, sung by a group of young people I had the privilege of working with.  The words of the song are as follows: ‘Lord you have come to the lake shore, looking neither for wealthy nor wise ones; you only asked me to follow humbly. You need my hands full of caring; through my labours to give others rest. Now my boat is left on the shoreline, by your side I will seek other sees. I have decided to follow you, no turning back, no turning back’