August 22: Twenty-first Sunday of Ordinary Time. Readings: 1. Joshua 24:1-2,15-18; Psalm: 34; 2. Ephesians 5:21-32; Gospel: John 6:60-69.
Today’s Scripture passages make sense when we view them with eyes of faith. For at their heart lies a message that invites us to respond to what is revealed through each biblical author.
Joshua’s carefully crafted words open up the choice every believer must make. The relationship that Israel’s God has forged with his people demands commitment. Therefore, all who are members of God’s holy people are obliged to adhere to whatever distinguishes them from other groups. That is why Joshua repeatedly uses the word “serve” to signal the degree of commitment it takes in order to belong to the group.
The advice Paul offers in Ephesians acts in a fashion similar to Joshua’s verses. But here it is the relationship with Christ that is central. All within the Church are bound together in a like-minded undertaking. As a communion of persons, whoever they may be, every member’s duty is to care for and respect one another. In faith, this connectedness thus reminds us to be constantly attentive to our mutual needs and so build up the example set by the Church.
At the end of chapter six in John’s Gospel, the words uttered by Jesus are somewhat challenging. In essence, they ask everyone who is listening to decide whether they want to be genuine members of Jesus’ band of disciples. Simon Peter’s response to Jesus’ challenge comes as a clear expression of faith in the spirit and power of what he has just heard. For all of us, the key to the future is revealed through Jesus.
The message delivered to us in Joshua, Ephesians and John is really quite a simple one. If, in faith, we know to what we belong, then day by day we are duty-bound to act according to the demands of being a communion of believers.