First Reading: John 24:1-2a, 15-17, 18b
Psalm: Ps 34:2-3, 16-17, 18-19, 20-21
Second Reading: Ephesians 5:21-32
Gospel Reading: John 6:60-69
"Decide today whom you will serve" (Josh 24:15)
The commitment to be bound to another person for life is never made once and for all, but must be renewed again and again. This is true not only of our commitments to one another but also in our commitment to God through Jesus. At particular moments we must decided definitively and now simply drift along. Today's scriptures are all about commitment and how faithful we are to our loving and merciful God.
In the first reading Joshua calls together all the tribes of Israel and their leaders. For some people this may have been an occasion of initial commitment; for others it was a reaffirmation of a way they had already chosen. Joshua puts the choice before them: either to serve the Lord who brought them out of slavery and freed them, who performed great miracles before their eyes, and who protected them all along the journey; or to serve gods of the land in which they dwelt. It seems impossible and illogical to make any other choice than to respond whole heartedly to God, who had begun the relationship with such extraordinary saving acts. Joshua leads the way by declaring that he and his household will serve God alone.
The second reading today invites us to examine our relationships. However, it must be said that the second reading today has caused great harm towards women. Women are not slaves, and they are not subservient to men. This segment of Ephesians is a Christina adaptation of the household codes that were common from the time of Aristotle onward. These outlined the proper workings of a Greek home in terms of the paterfamilias as ruler, to whom the woman, children, and slaves were subordinate. The version in Ephesians begins by exhorting the mutual subordination of husbands and wives to one another out of reverence for Christ, but then elaborates only one direction of the relationship: the responsibilities of husbands and the subservience of wives to them. This reading is most often used to reinforce male domination over women. Yet the model presented to husbands is that of Christ's complete self-sacrificing love for the church. If husbands exercised such self-surrender in love toward their wives, it would result in the dismantling of structures of male domination and would initiate a whole new pattern of mutual respect and self-giving love. This manner of relating goes against the grain of most cultures.
Today's Gospel is the conclusion of the Bread of Life discourse found in John 6. The "saying" referred to in the first line is found in the concluding verses of last Sunday's Gospel: Jesus is the living bread come down from heaven; on him, believers must feed; in doing so, they live forever. Yes, the teaching on the Eucharist is difficult to understand. We too can ask like the disciples, "How can he give us his flesh to eat?" We should respond in bold faith like Peter, saying, "We have come to believe and are convinced that you ar ethe Holy One of God" (John 6:68). Some, not understanding, find it hard to believe. They depart from Jesus and return to their former way of life. They have made their choice. Peter too has made a choice. He has come to believe and remains with Jesus.
Questions for reflection this Sunday:
Reflect on the life-choice commetments you have made. What reaffirmations nee to be expressed in words?
What commitments do you need to reexamine?