|TWENTY FIRST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – YEAR B THEME: Free To Choose Christ|
Date: 23 Aug 2015
FIRST READING Joshua 24:1-2.15-17.18
“We will serve the Lord, for he is our God.”
A reading from the Book of Joshua
In those days: Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and summoned the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel; and they presented themselves before God. And Joshua said to all the people, “If you be unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord, to serve other gods; for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our fathers up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, and who did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way that we went and among all the people through whom we passed; therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.”
The word of the Lord
Alleluia. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life; you have the words of eternal life. Alleluia.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM psalms 34:1-2.15-22
RESPONSE: Taste and see that the Lord is good!
I will bless the Lord at all times,
praise of him is always in my mouth.
In the Lord my soul shall make its boast;
the humble shall hear and be glad. R
The Lord turns his eyes to the just,
and his ears are open to their cry.
The Lord turns his face against the wicked
to destroy their remembrance from the earth. R
When the just cry out, the Lord hears,
and rescues them in all their distress.
The Lord is close to the broken-hearted;
those whose spirit is crushed he will save. R
Many are the trials of the just man,
but from them all the Lord will rescue him.
He will keep guard over all his bones;
not one of his bones shall be broken. R
Evil brings death to the wicked;
those who hate the just man are doomed.
The Lord ransoms the souls of his servants.
All who trust in him shall not be condemned. R
SECOND READING Ephesians 5:21-32
“This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the Church.”
A reading from the Letter of saint Paul the Ephesians
Brethren: Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church, his body and is himself its Savior. As the Church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the Church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the Church, because we are members of his body. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the Church.
The word of the Lord
GOSPEL John 6:60-69
“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John
At that time: Many of the disciples of Jesus said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at it, said to them, “Do you take offence at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of man ascending where he was before? It is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are Spirit and life. But there are some of you that do not believe. For Jesus knew from the first who those were that did not believe, and who it was that would betray him. And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer walked with him. Jesus said to the Twelve, “Will you also go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life: and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
The Gospel of the Lord
How does God help us grow in faith and trust in his word, even the hard sayings which are difficult to understand? Faith is a gift which God freely gives to those who listen to his word and who put their trust in him. Faith is a personal response to God's revelation of himself. Faith is neither blind nor ignorant. It is based on the truth and reliability of God's word. True faith seeks understanding. Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) said, "I believe in order to understand, and I understand the better to believe." The Lord Jesus offers all of his followers his life-giving word and Spirit to help us grow in our knowledge and understanding of God.
Paul the Apostle tells us that it is the work of the Holy Spirit who enlightens the eyes of our heart and mind to understand the truth and wisdom which comes from God (Ephesians 1:17-18). Faith is the key to understanding and experiencing God's action and work in our personal lives. Paul the Apostle tells us that "God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us" (Romans 5:5). We can know God personally, and we grow in recognizing his voice as we listen to his word and obey his instruction. Do you believe, as Peter did, that Jesus has the words of everlasting life and the power to change and transform your life? Ask the Lord Jesus to increase your faith that you may grow in knowing, loving, and serving him as your Lord and Redeemer, Teacher and Healer, Master and Savior.
"Lord Jesus, you have the words of everlasting life. Help me to cast aside all doubt and fear so that I may freely embrace your word with complete trust and joy. I surrender all to you. Be the Lord of my life and the Ruler of my heart. May there be nothing which hinders me from trusting in your love and following your will."