21st Sunday in Ordinary Time Joshua 24:1-2a, 15-17, 18b. John 6:60-69
In today’s First Reading and Gospel, a great leader confronts his followers with a momentous decision. Jesus will ask his disciples if they, too, will abandon him.
Joshua asks the Israelites to decide who will rule the nation and their hearts – the Lord, or the false gods of their ancestors and neighbors. The response of the Israelites and the apostles are hauntingly similar, for both acknowledge there is no other choice but to remain faithful to the one who first called them.
In the verse that follows today’s text from Joshua, he reminds his people that following the Law of God will not be easy, so they must be ready to resist the lures of the pagan world around them. So Joshua’s question is blunt and clear: If you won’t serve the Lord, then decide whom you will serve! Does this not apply to us in our world today? The Old Testament people then recall the mighty deeds of the Lord, and with gratitude, swear to serve God faithfully.
In the Gospel Jesus challenges his disciples, but his teaching is “hard to accept” resulting in many of them “returning to their former way of life and no longer accompanying him.” Jesus then turns to the twelve and asks them the explicit and painful question “Do you also want to leave?” Peter answers Jesus making a bold declaration of Faith and revealing a depth of insight only the Spirit could give – “Master to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
These readings today, challenge me and maybe others, to be open to the word of God, which is “Spirit and life,” and to give thanks for our gift of faith together with the daily blessings showered on each one of us.
I think our New Orleans school theme this year prays it beautifully:
Give thanks with a grateful heart, Give thanks to the Holy One,
Give thanks for He’s given Jesus Christ his Son.
And now let the weak say I am strong, Let the poor say I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done for us. Give Thanks!
Therese Lenehan, O.P