Bulletin: August 22, 2021
Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Today’s Gospel is the conclusion of the Bread of Life discourse in John. After Jesus’ continued insistence that he is the Bread of Life come down from heaven, and that his words are “Spirit and life,” most of his disciples drift away. The Twelve, however, affirm their faith in Jesus, whom Simon Peter professes to “have the words of eternal life.” In the first reading, Joshua and the Israelites are preparing to enter the Promised Land, and Joshua asks the people to decide which god they will follow, the LORD their God, or the gods of neighboring peoples. The Responsorial Psalm features Psalm 34, the “taste and see” psalm, that reflects the kinds of struggles the Israelites faced during their sojourn in the wilderness. In the second reading, Paul gives counsel for maintaining domestic peace and happiness.
CROSSROADS IN LIFE, THEN AND NOW
Sometimes in life we find ourselves at a crossroads, faced with an existential choice that will alter the course of our life. We are aware, at these moments, just how significant our choice will be and that there will be no going back.
In both the first reading and the Gospel we see such moments calling people to make such choices. Which god will the Israelites follow? Joshua, their leader after Moses, knows that the area around the Promised Land is occupied by other peoples, with other gods. Perhaps remembering how, after Moses had gone up Mount Sinai, the Israelites set up a golden calf to worship, Joshua worries that they may again be susceptible to such attractions. He is asking them for a commitment, and proclaims, “As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
WE FACE THE SAME QUESTION: CAN WE STAY WITH JESUS?
The people who were frenetically following Jesus, crossing the lake twice to pursue him, eating the bread he miraculously provided, are now puzzled by Jesus proclaiming himself as “the bread of life,” and they are incredulous. They can go with him no farther, so they gradually drift away. The Twelve, however, stay with Jesus. What else could they do? Who else offers such a profound vision of human life? Peter expresses it well: “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
Not all of our life’s crossroads involve our faith, but some do. Perhaps there is someone in your parish who chose to become Catholic and is now alienated from their family; someone who is unhappy with a new pastor and wondering about looking for a different parish; someone who was especially distressed by the clergy sex abuse and prayed long and hard before deciding that she needed her parish to get through it. There may be many in your parish facing such choices, and they need our support and our prayers. In the meantime, we can hope that someday they will again experience Jesus as the Holy One of God, offering them words of eternal life.