Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today's readings can be found here.

The gospel of this week concludes the Bread of Life Discourse in John Chapter 6. The gospel, when included with the entire chapter of John, affirms that it is difficult for our human minds to believe that Jesus is the Bread of Life, but that we must eat this bread to gain eternal life. Many who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” The gospel also affirms that many people left the discipleship because they could not accept it. The ones who remained knew that even though it was hard to believe, Jesus was right. Which is why they said, “To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

The first reading, from the book of Joshua, also demonstrates a time when a choice was made between our God and other gods. Joshua, like Jesus' disciples, chooses God,. He says, “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” The people answer that God has helped them and protected them, and they would serve God too.

Tying these readings with the second reading is an interesting exercise. The reading from Ephesians is often read at weddings. It also often upsets people due to its command to for women to be subordinate to their husbands. I'm sure after that line in the gospel, many people shut down their listening ears and say, “oh no they didn't.” But I encourage all to listen to the heart of this reading.

Husbands are to their wives as Christ is to the Church. Christ died for His Church. He put Himself up on the cross, underwent incredible suffering, humiliation, and pain until death. Husbands are to do the same for their wives. They are to love their wives and hand themselves over to lead their wives to heaven. Husbands should love their wives as they love their own bodies, nourishing and cherishing her.

Maybe this isn't your marriage, nor your parents marriage. Look around, do you see a marriage like this? Have you heard of a marriage like this? This image of marriage does not always present itself in our modern world. This image of marriage is an ideal, and it is a metaphor of Christ's love for us. In a perfect Church, we are the wife, subordinate to God and God's will for us. In turn, Jesus, the spouse, offers himself for us, and for our purification, salvation, and sanctification. He protects us, nourishes us, and cherishes us.

Our duty as the Church, as the wife of Christ, is to be subordinate, believe and trust that God will care for us. The gospel, written to conclude the Bread of Life discourse, tells us that this is hard to accept. But it also tells us that these words are Spirit and life.

Husbands and wives should examine their commitment to their spouse and their responsibilities based on these scriptures. Based on these scriptures, everyone should examine their commitment to God and Church and their responsibilities to both. If we do not believe this, if we do not act and live as the wife, the bride of Christ, how will we live? To whom shall we go?

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