Today, on the 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time, our readings are full of hard sayings which are needed to listen attentively by using our ears faith.
In the first reading, let us see the event when the prophet Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel, all its elders and leaders. Joshua made an inquiry about deciding to which god to whom they will serve. “If it does not please you to serve the Lord, decide today whom you will serve…” It was a reminder to the people of Israel the covenant they made with God. “We will serve the Lord, for he is our God.” This answer was an answer of Israelite in full gratitude and appreciations to the God who brought them out from the land of slavery and who did great things for them; the God who protected them through their entire journey. That there is no other God but the Lord that they are going to serve and acknowledge.
In the second reading, St. Paul made a prompt with people of Ephesus about a great mystery concerning Christ and the Church. He used the image of a married couple who is subordinating to one another. It was a clear comparison of Paul that “husband is head of his wife just as Christ is the head of the Church.” However, it doesn’t mean that a husband can do anything he wants to his wife but the way Christ loved the Church.
“For this reason, a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” Here is to say, to raise their own family and Jesus is the center of their lives. Nowadays, the 21st century couples are not the same as the past centuries, their ideas in raising a family are not as clear as our parents did. Twenty-first century ‘subordinate’ meant power over the wife or vice versa power over the husband, that is, the superficiality of love among married couples today. Their vows are easily shaken by many circumstances which challenge their relationships. The true sense of subordination is that love which could sustain for a lifetime. Christ’s love for the Church lives forever.
In our readings, there is a budding of false and fake news all around, unbelievably that they could make people believe but there is no truth behind it. Some are modus that make people hypnotized to make an individual follow and give in and their plan triumphs.
When Jesus speaks, He speaks with power and it always penetrates the heart and mind of His listeners. In the situations of today’s gospel, the disciples were perplexed about what Jesus revealed to them. Words that are not easy to swallow and probably nobody can accept. They are puzzled not because Jesus is mocking them but they could not understand by their human minds. However, Jesus knew that many of His followers would be shocked by His words and neither believed him.
“Do you also want to leave?” This question of Jesus to His disciples might not be a question of self-possession but a fully free decision to choose. Without constraint Jesus gave them freedom to take part in His passion.
But in any circumstances, there is somebody who always understands and trusts Jesus’ words. “To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” This must be the question that a committed disciple must have. It is not only the loyalty to Jesus that real disciples will give in return but their dedication, commitment and themselves.
The murmuring sound of the disciples might be a controversial gesture that Jesus must understand. When Jesus spoke with eloquence to His followers, it made them anxious and divided in mind. It might be the normal reactions but behind His revelations there is no fake or false news. Without being hypnotized He wanted that people will forcibly believe Him but only His bare words of spiritual wisdom reveals the TRUTH.
Once in a while hearing hard words from the people around us perhaps will awaken our senses and motivate us to go deeper to our own realities. It could be helping us to think, to discern and to deepen the faith and trust that we have. Surely in time it will hurt us, will perplex us or it will bear us with grudges. But there might be some wisdom that hides those hard words that we must have to listen to.
Our Lady of La Vang Community