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This weekend is the last weekend when our Gospel reading is taken from the Gospel of John. (We are in year B of a three year cycle for our weekend readings, and in year B we read from the Gospel of Mark. However, since Mark is the shortest Gospel, we have to supplement it with selections from the Gospel of John.) Our Gospel today is the conclusion of what is known as the “Bread of Life” discourse.
In the Gospels preceding today’s Gospel, Jesus has identified himself as the living bread come down from heaven, and his invited people to eat his flesh and drink his blood. In our Gospel today we are told “Many of Jesus’ disciples who were listening said, ‘This saying is hard, who can accept it?’” And “As a result of this many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.” Clearly Jesus knew that some of his followers would not be able to accept his words. He wanted them to make a clear choice, though, whether to continue as his followers. Peter responded for the disciples who had decided to remain with the unambiguous statement: “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
Our first reading for this weekend also emphasizes the idea of choice. In this reading Joshua challenges the tribes of Israel to make a clear choice in regard to God. “If it does not please you to serve the Lord, decide today whom you will serve………………As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
Our second reading for this weekend is taken from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Its opening lines --- which are usually omitted --- are every preacher’s nightmare: “Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord.” As we read these words we need to remember, though, that they were written at a time and place, and in culture, where wives were often considered property. I suspect Paul would have written them differently, if we were writing today. Also, and more importantly, the main point of Paul’s words is to remind us of how we are to conduct ourselves as followers of Jesus Christ. In this regard, we are to be “Subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- Has there been a time when you have found Jesus’ words too demanding/challenging?
- Has there been a time when you have had to make a clear and decisive choice for God?
- What words of Scripture do you find difficult or that rankle you?