Joshua 24:1-2a, 15-17, 18b
Joshua gathered together all the tribes of Israel at Shechem, summoning their elders, their leaders, their judges, and their officers. When they stood in ranks before God, Joshua addressed all the people: “If it does not please you to serve the Lord, decide today whom you will serve, the gods your fathers served beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are now dwelling. As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” But the people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake the Lord for the service of other gods. For it was the Lord, our God, who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, out of a state of slavery. He performed those great miracles before our very eyes and protected us along our entire journey and among the peoples through whom we passed. Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.”
Brothers and sisters: Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body. As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. So also husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. 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. This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church.
Gospel Cycle Cycle B
Many of Jesus’ disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.” As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”
It is clear that the first reading and the Gospel are speaking to us today about a free, personal choice on our part to serve the living God. The Book of Joshua tells us the story about Joshua gathering the people and asking them to choose: either the God of our ancestors or some other God.
We all know that choices can be made in a crowd and then changed afterwards. This seems a common occurrence among our ancestors in the faith—and one wonders if we do the same thing. How much of our faith is really just wanting to belong with others and not yet a strong personal choice and conviction?
Today’s Gospel describes the same kind of experience and in that Gospel we find many of the followers of Jesus left him. Again we are challenged to ask ourselves why we follow Jesus and His way? Can we really say with Peter: You have the words of eternal life? Can we mean that with our whole being?
As we listen attentively to these readings today, we are deeply challenged to make a person decision about walking with the Lord, our God, or leaving this God and looking for another.
If we can accept this God, then we can come to understand better the second reading, which can be very difficult to understand. At first glance this reading from the Letter to the Ephesians is very difficult. It speaks about wives being subordinate to their husbands and about husbands loving their wives.
Although this reading comes from another way of looking at life in general, that does not mean that we can simply ignore it. Rather we need to continue to look at the relationship between wife and husband and find out how this relationship mirrors the relationship that Christ has to His Church.
Jesus puts Himself at our disposal. Jesus wants us to look again at our personal relationship with Him and choose to follow Him more closely or to follow someone else.
I want to follow Christ Jesus and I choose to do so! Every day I find myself denying Him once again in so many ways. May this day allow the Lord to transform me into a faithful servant who loves Him above all things and in all things.