We must serve the Lord by supporting each other in mutual loving respect
Reflections on the readings for the Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time (August 22, 2021): JOS 24:1-2,15,18; PS 34:2-3,16-17,18-19,20-21; EPH 5:21-32; JN 6:60-69
MISSIO offers “Mission In Scripture” to nurture a missionary heart, providing reflections on the missionary themes in the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
Recognizing the need for mutual love and dignity is essential to all who follow Christ.
Today’s readings call us to think about difficult matters and to make decisions about what we believe, who we believe and how we choose to live. In both the Old Testament reading from Joshua and the Gospel of St. John, we consider who is worthy of our life’s devotion. Joshua, the successor to Moses, gathered the tribes of Israel to ask them if they will serve the one God or if they prefer other gods. He made it perfectly clear that he and his household would stay loyal to the Almighty. The people agreed with him. They, too, would serve the God who had rescued and protected them, and shown them great miracles. In the Gospel, many of Jesus’ followers make a different choice. They thought He asked too much by speaking of Himself as the Bread of life and of His coming down from heaven. Although we hear a hint of Judas’ future betrayal, Peter and the other Apostles chose to stay faithful through the grace of the Eternal Father.
In the second reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians we hear about the relationship of Jesus and His Church told in terms of the bond between husbands and wives. The section begins: “Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21). All couples must love and respect each other. Paul references traditional norms for marriage as he understood them, but goes on to show the intimate connection between our Lord and the members of His Body. While he speaks of obedience by wives and the Church, Paul insists that husbands love and sacrifice themselves for the good of their wives, just as Christ has done for His faithful. “No one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the Church, because we are members of His body. For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the Church” (Ephesians 5:29-32). Recognizing the need for mutual love and dignity is essential to all who follow Christ.
Suggested missionary action: Let us commit ourselves to offering loving support to spouses, children, and all family members. And let us also serve our Lord by helping neighbor, near and half a world away, all out of love of Him.