August 22, 2021 — Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
JOS 24:1-2A, 15-17, 18B; PS 34:2-3, 16-17, 18-19, 20-21; EPH 5:21-32 OR 5:2A, 25-32; JN 6:60-69
In our first reading, Joshua tells the leaders of the Israelites to decide as to who they shall serve in this life, “If it does not please you to serve the Lord, decide today whom you shall serve.” At this time, the Israelites were not wholeheartedly committed to the Lord. But Joshua outspokenly addresses this situation and challenges them to make a decision.
As he presents them with this opportunity, he boldly states, “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
Who or what does your household serve? Whether you are a household of one or 12, now is the time to decide, ‘will we serve the Lord?’
We are constantly bombarded with endless distractions around us. It can be very easy to serve other ‘gods’ in our lives. For instance, putting technology (phone, internet, TV), our kids’ extracurricular activities, our jobs, or our social lives before the Lord. We also might be putting these things above our loved ones, and if we are doing that, then we are putting them above our relationship with God.
Reflect on how you may not be putting God first in your life and decide to respond like the Israelites, “Far be it from us to forsake the Lord for the service of other gods…Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.”
Our second reading specifically challenges our families to live out their vocation of marriage to the fullest. St. Paul’s message is uplifting and filled with profound beauty, truth, and goodness.
St. Paul was relating marriage to Christ’s love for His Church. He is calling all husbands to radically love and serve their family as Christ radically loves us — by laying down His life for us. And he is calling all wives to support and uplift their husbands in this mission. Families are called to be a unified team in total service to one another out of love for Christ.
This capacity to love is within us, yet to love our families as Christ loves, we must first wholeheartedly love Him. As families, we must decide to put Christ first in our hearts so that we can better love one another. This is a daily choice we must make, and the best way to stay committed to this choice begins in daily prayer. It will transform our hearts.
Lastly, our Gospel brings us to the reality that making these radical changes in our lives will not be easy. Just as in Jesus’ time, people listened to His words, and chose to turn away from Him, “as a result, many disciples turned to their former way of life.” Sin is enticing but deathly.
Becoming a follower of Christ is life-giving and freeing. Peter reminds us to stay faithful and committed to Christ, “You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”
With this in mind, we must strive each day to live intentionally as disciples of Christ. It starts with commitment — incorporating personal daily prayer and increasing that prayer week by week, incorporating prayer into our marriages and families, frequenting the sacraments, and serving others. Through this time with the Lord and service to those around us, He will reveal where to go next.
Today, let us pray for the strength to live our lives as Joshua proclaimed, “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”