21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Photo credit: quotefancy.com

Joshua 24:1-2a, 15-17, 18b
Ephesians 5:21-32
John 6:60-69

Leaving or Staying

For decades the Israelites have been traveling from slavery toward the promised land. As they approach the end of their journey Joshua asks the people, “If it does not please you to serve the Lord, decide today whom you will serve, the gods your fathers served beyond the river or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are now dwelling.  As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” The Israelites are given a choice and they choose God. Do we choose God or are many of the false gods  (anger, prejudice, complaining, lying, etc.) around us chosen as part of our daily lives?

In the second reading wives and husbands are encouraged to choose the best for each other. The choice is for each other. The language of subordination in the reading may not be what we are comfortable with today, but the underlying purpose is to choose to be faithful to each other. Are we faithful and call out the best in ourselves and others to whom we are committed?

For the last few Sundays we have been reflecting on the “Bread of Life” chapter from the Gospel of John. In today’s reading Jesus gives his followers a choice. Last Sunday Jesus told them that they must eat his flesh and drink his blood. Today the gospel tells us, “Many of Jesus’ disciples who were listening said, ‘This saying is hard; who can accept it?’… As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.” Leaving or staying – that is the choice!

Jesus gives his closest followers the choice if they want to stay or leave. “Simon Peter answered him, ‘Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.’”

Is this our belief as well? Is this our choice to stay as a follower of Jesus? Believing that Jesus is really present in the Eucharist we receive is a matter of faith. It is something we may not fully understand, but it is a belief we grow into as we receive over and over again. Gradually we go through a process of coming to belief and knowledge. Faith and experience work together here.

“This saying is hard; who can accept it?” Just like the disciples we are given a choice. Jesus wants us to believe in him, to love him, to be a committed follower. Staying or leaving. What is our decision?

In what ways do you deepen your understanding of and commitment to your relationship with God?

How can you increase your consciousness of the real presence of Jesus when you receive communion?

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