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.”
Are you going to serve God or not? We hear this question from Joshua in the first reading today. It should go right to our own hearts. It is a question that is part of our lives: serve God or not? The readings today put this question to us and we are asked to answer it.
In the Gospel today, from John, we have this statement: Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. We have to remember that this statement, although it sounds so very clear, is not very clear. For instance, Peter betrayed Jesus. Thomas refused to believe. The Apostles are good examples to us because they are not people who just believed without having any failures or faults. They made lots of mistakes and were not faithful always—but in the end, they decided to walk with the Lord.
When we hear the words of Jesus, we do not have to be frightened. We can be like those of His followers who remained with 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.
We must remember that even after this, these same followers denied knowing Jesus and betrayed Him in various ways. The most important reality is to know that Jesus always will invite us to follow Him again, even when we turn against Him. Our hearts must be open to conversion, as were the hearts of those disciples who left Him and yet returned to follow Him once more.
Always we come back to the reality that we must choose to serve God or be against Him. We must choose to follow Jesus Christ or be against Him. There is no middle ground except for repentance once more. God has sent His Son to redeem us and to share the divine life with us. We must seek to respond to the invitation of God. Even if we have gone away from the Lord Jesus, He still invites us to return. Let us not be afraid of turning back to the Lord if we have left Him. If we have remained faithful, let us strive to love Him even more.
In this life, we must constantly keep our faith alive. This requires of us a daily effort to live in the Word of the Lord, to let that Word form us and to allow the Word to convert all within us that is not yet completely given over to the Lord.
Let us walk in the ways of our God.