Scripture Reflections – Sunday, August 26th, 2012

Jos 24:1-2a, 15-17, 18b;  Eph 5:21-32,  Jn 6: 66- 9

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

There is a clear theme running through the three readings this week. To use a colloquial American expression, that theme would be:  Who’s your daddy?

In other words – to whom and to what are you committed? Not just involved with. Or interested in.    With whom and with what have you cast your lot, to the point that your fate is inextricably wound up with theirs?

Joshua, Moses’s successor as the leader of the Hebrew people, knows that how the people answer this question will determine everything.   As any good leader must, he declares his allegiance first:  “As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”  What will determine whether this rag tag group of ex-slaves will simply disappear into the surrounding Canaanite population or emerge as a people with a distinct relationship to the One True God is their collective decision to commit to that relationship – through their promise to observe God’s commandments in their hearts.

In this next section of the Bread of Life Discourse from John’s gospel (we have been reading selections from it at our Sunday celebration of the Eucharist for about six weeks now) Jesus watches as the crowds, which only the day before were ready to declare him a king, now begin to wander off, muttering to themselves about the “hard sayings” that Jesus has been proclaiming.   We get a wonderful glimpse of Jesus’ humanity here when, deeply immersed in feelings of sadness and doubt, he turns to his friends and asks – “Do you also want to leave?”   On behalf of the group (presumably excluding Judas) Peter touches the heart of his friend with these words:  “To whom shall we go?  You have the words of Truth.”

You know that you’ve cast in your lot with someone when you recognize that the road that you’ve chosen to follow is really the only road you could follow because it is the only road into the heart of Truth.  “Two roads diverged in the woods and I, I took the road less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.”   Peter would understand those words by Robert Frost.

What happens when we make our commitment to Christ and to one another?  St. Paul tells us that then – and only then – we  enter the “great mystery” of Covenant – the eternal communion among all those human beings – past, present and future – who have recognized that they were caught up in the passionate embrace of God and have surrendered to that embrace. It is the mystery of Love given a tangible form within the relationship of two people who have thrown their lots in with one another in the sacrament of marriage.   It is the mystery of Love in which and for which Christ lived and died.  It is the mystery of Love through which we discover who each one of us was always meant to be.

Jim Philipps (3rd millennium pilgrim)

(To purchase book-length versions of my reflections on the scriptures, go to www.twentythirdpublication.com. Books can also be purchased via amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com)

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