Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time, August 22
May We Ask Our Lord to Strengthen Our Faith and Help Us Cast Aside All Doubt, Fear, and Indifference to His Words of Eternal Truth, So That We May Obey His Teachings with a Confident Trust and an Expectant Joy.
In today’s Gospel, our Lord is saying to His disciples, “It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life.”
If we could stop and reflect upon our lives for a moment, can we imagine what our individual journey would be like if we did not know Christ, or if Christ had never come? Can you imagine living in a society or in a country or in a world in which Christianity did not exist?
Speaking for myself, I know that life would seem so much emptier. Without God’s Truth guiding and leading us throughout all our life’s endeavors, it would be easy for any one of us to feel lost – as we search for the meaning of life, trying to make sense out of the sufferings we sometimes endure, trying to understand what truly awaits us after we experience the inevitability of physical death.
The very Presence of Christ, the truths which He taught us about His Father, the wonders which await His faithful children who embrace His will for us in our daily lives – they all give our life meaning. Christianity gives each of us a purpose to live, and the means by which to live this life – the Beatitudes and God’s Commandments of love.
Peter asked a question and answered it himself with words of truth which go to the very heart of the matter of our Christian faith – “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
Over the past three Sundays, except for last Sunday which was the Solemnity of the Assumption, we have been listening to Jesus’ discourse on the Bread of Life – a Truth presented to His disciples which was very difficult for many to accept – “…unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood has eternal life…”
And those who left – because they found our Lord’s teaching too hard to accept – choose to walk away because they could not understand this new teaching. They walked away because they could not see the Face of God in this itinerate preacher who had just miraculously fed them with only five loaves and two fish!
Even Joshua in our First Reading today, who succeeded Moses as the leader of God’s Chosen People, and knowing that he was nearing the end of his life, proposes a choice to the Jewish people who had now taken possession of all the lands that God had promised to their fathers.
They had come to understand that their God is a God who watches over and protects the children He loves. And how did they respond? “…Far be it from us to forsake the LORD for the service of other gods…He performed…great miracles before our very eyes and protected us along our entire journey and among the peoples through whom we passed. Therefore we…will serve the LORD, for he is our God.”
Throughout His three year ministry, Jesus taught us that to serve God means to love selflessly and be of service to the needs of others. Even Saint Paul, in our Second Reading, describes what the love between a husband and wife should exemplify. If we should choose to focus our lives on God’s Loving Presence within us, then husbands and wives should be witnesses to God’s Love within each other!
And in order for married couples to accomplish this, Saint Paul guides us with these words, “Brothers and sisters: Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
These are not words where one spouse lords it over another, but rather where each spouse becomes a servant to the needs of each other, giving of themselves completely for the benefit of the relationship between each other – all in imitation of the sacrificial Love which Christ gave for the sake of His own Bride, the Church.
The subordination of Christ’s Love for His Bride was the ultimate giving of Himself for the good of His Church – for the needs of all His children throughout all the generations that would follow. In essence, Saint Paul is teaching us that each husband and wife, out of reverence and in imitation of Christ’s Love, is asked to give of him or herself completely for the good of each other.
Choosing to be Christ-like to one another is to choose eternal life. And in order to strengthen us in our journey of loving each other selflessly, as Christ selflessly loves each of us, the Eternal Word made Flesh has given us Himself. He has given us His Flesh which we eat, and His Blood which we drink – so that we may have life, and have it abundantly.
Today’s psalmist, from our Responsorial Psalm, even echoes our life of faith and our need for the Bread of Life as spiritual nourishment, as we sing together in praise, “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.”
As the Jewish people were asked, in our First Reading, to choose who they would worship, as Paul teaches us to choose to be Christ-like in our love for each other which we find in our Second Reading, so it is that Christ, in essence, is not only asking Peter in today’s Gospel, but He is also asking each one of us, “Who do you choose to follow?”
Do we choose to listen to the call of materialism? Do we choose to succumb to the seductions of secularism? Do we choose to live our lives controlled by ego, greed, selfishness, lust and all forms of self-indulgences?
Or do we choose to follow the path set before us by the teachings of Jesus Christ? In other words, do we choose to commit ourselves to a way of life and a manner of thinking which guides each one of us to live SELFLESSLY for the good of others? Do we choose to love and give of ourselves generously as Christ gave of Himself for each of us?
Peter’s response to our Lord’s question should become our own response. His act of faith should echo our own act of faith. “Do you also want to leave?” It is as through Jesus is asking each one of us, “Do you also want to follow the path which leads many to false hopes and unfulfilled dreams?”
Our own answer should be as Peter’s, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
May we ask our Lord to strengthen our faith and help us cast aside all doubt, fear, and indifference to His words of Eternal Truth, so that we may obey His teachings with a confident trust and an expectant joy.
And may there be nothing in our lives which separates us from God’s Love, for eternal life with our Lord and Savior should be our only true and lasting desire!
May God bless you, God love you, and may God always keep you. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life.” (John 6:63)
- “…unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood has eternal life…” (John 6:53-54a)
- “…Far be it from us to forsake the LORD to serve other gods…He performed…great signs before our very eyes and protected us along our entire journey and among all the peoples through whom we passed. Therefore we…will serve the LORD, for he is our God.” (Joshua 24:16, 17b, 18b)
- “So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us…[Wives and husbands], be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:1-2a, 21)
- “Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord…Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her.” (Ephesians 5:22, 25)
- “…each one of you should love his wife as himself, and the wife should respect her husband.” (Ephesians 5:33)
- “This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5:32)
- “…many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, ‘Do you also want to leave?’” (John 6:66-67)
- “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.’” (John 6:68-69)
- “I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved…I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:9ab, 10b)
- “Taste and see that the LORD is good…nothing is lacking to those who fear him.” (Psalm 34:9a, 10b)
Prayer for the Day
“Eternal and Most Loving Father,Anonymous
I submit my entire self to Your holy will.
All that I am today, transform me into Your servant;
living Your Truth amongst my brothers and sisters.
“Thank You for imbuing me with Your Holy Spirit,
Who guides me to live a life of righteousness,
enabling me to be all that You desire me to be,
so that I may give my best in service to Your children.
“Forgive me for my past failures,
rejecting the image of Christ in those around me.
In selfishness, I held back Your Love
and fell short in living the virtue of charity.
“Fill my heart with humility,
so that I may always fulfill Your will,
imitating the life of Your Son, Jesus,
giving love without counting the cost.
“In Jesus’ Name, I pray for this grace
for the glory of Your Divine Majesty,
in the Presence of the Holy Spirit,
and for the well-being of my soul for all eternity. Amen.”