Homily: Twenty-first Sunday Year B Whom will you serve?

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Homily Twenty-first Sunday Year B

 

Reading 1 Joshua let the people into the Promised Land under the guidance of God. The people were established, having conquered some of their enemies. Joshua reminds the people that it was God who led them and have established them in their new land. He challenged them to renew their covenant with God or choose to serve other gods. Recognizing what God has done since the time of their exodus from Egypt till that moment, Joshua proclaimed that he and his family will serve the Lord God, who is God alone. The people said that they too would do the same. Though they and Joshua were sincere, the generations after them forgot what God had done and fell away from serving the Lord. They broke their covenant with God.

 

The same was true with Moses and the people of his day. After Moses presented them with the Commandments of the Lord, he asked them if they will obey them. Their response was affirmative. “We will do all the Lord asks of us.” He sealed their yes to the covenant in blood. But their subsequent actions proved that words are easy to say. Words without actions backing them are just words.

 

When we were baptized, we entered a covenant with God. Hopefully, sometime after that we have had a personal encounter with God and have made that covenant our own. Today, we have heard again the marvels God has done for our ancestors on our behalf.  We recall what Jesus has done for us through his death and resurrection. We too gather to renew our covenant with God. Like the people in Moses’ time and in Joshua’s we will proclaim that we will do all that the Lord asks of us. We will serve the Lord, our God, and him alone. How we live during the rest of this week will indicate whether we were sincere or we spoke empty words.

 

Gospel: There is within each of us a spirit of rebellion, based on a lack of faith and trust in God. Jesus has revealed to his many disciples that he is the Bread of Life, the new Manna come down from heaven. He will give them his Body and Blood to eat and drink. If they ate and drank, they would have life forever. Several times he repeated the same message. His Body is real food and his Blood real drink. At the same time, if they did not eat and drink of his Body and Blood, they will not live forever in glory but alienation.

 

Many of his disciples found this too hard to accept. They were approaching Jesus’ words from the limitation of the human mind. They were looking for rationality. They could not put their faith in Jesus, nor in his words. Jesus did not explain any further. He did not accommodate himself to their way of thinking. He stuck by his words.  As a result, many of his disciples left him. He turned to the Twelve and asked them to also make a decision, either to accept his words because of who he was to them, or walk away like the others.

 

Peter already confessed Jesus as the Christ without fully understanding of what that really means. Now, he renews his commitment to remain and follow Jesus, even though he doesn’t fully understand the revelation Jesus has given them. His faith is in the person of Jesus first and in his words second. This wasn’t blind faith, but an acknowledgment of his relationship with Jesus.

 

In faith in the person of Jesus, the Lord, we accept that this is the Body and Blood of Jesus. Our faith is in the person of Jesus first and then in what he has revealed. There may be many things that may be hard to understand. We ask for the grace from the Holy Spirit.

 

Reading 2: Many women take offense at Paul in this reading. They see it as degrading to women. The first reading focused on serving the Lord, being faithful to the Lord, following the Lord. That is the focus of this reading. Not the husband or the wife, but the Lord.

 

 Paul is giving an exhortation about our relationship with God. Whom will you serve? Christ has shown us the greatest sign of love by reconciling us to the Father through the shedding of his blood.  He gave his life for our life. His focus was not what was good and easy for him, but what was best for us.

 

In the context of true love, Paul then says husband and wives should be subordinate to one another out of reverence and love of Christ. It is a mutual choice and commitment that is hard to fulfill, if our love does not reflect his love. He emptied himself, not thinking of himself, but thinking of us, so that we can be with the Father.

 

Husbands and wives should love each other this way. Neither is complete without the other. Jesus loved us and laid down his life for us, so that we can be holy and without blemish. Husbands and wives are called to love and serve one another, so that each cam be holy before the Lord. 

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