21st Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

Published on 16 Aug 2021
A hand reaching out towards a sunset.

‘You have the message of eternal life, and we believe!’

O God, who cause the minds of the faithful

to unite in a single purpose,

grant your people to love what you command

and to desire what you promise,

that, amid the uncertainties of this world,

our hearts may be fixed on that place where true gladness is found.

This Sunday, the readings invite us to consider honestly the depth of our love for the Lord. The same challenging questions once put to the Israelites by Joshua, and later to the disciples by Jesus, are being asked of us today.

The tribes of Israel are gathered at Shechem. They answer Joshua’s challenge by declaring why they intend to serve the Lord. (First Reading)

The Second Reading is full of social codes and expectations that would have been well understood by those to whom they were addressed. In essence, these words are a discourse on the deep love that Christ has for the Church, a love so strong that it is compared to an intimate, loving relationship between husband and wife.

The full mystery of this love has been revealed over the last few Sundays, and again today, in the conclusion to Jesus’s teaching on the Living Bread of Life (Gospel). For many of Jesus’s followers, this proves too challenging. Turning to the Twelve, Jesus asks if they want to leave too. But Peter speaks for them all, and perhaps for the whole Christian community, in saying:

‘Lord who shall we go to? You have the message of eternal life.’

Once again we hear the invitation in the Psalm to ‘Taste and see that the Lord is good’.

This week, we pray especially that our spiritual life may nourish us and all those around us, and that we may embody a loving commitment to follow the Lord at all times.

I will bless the Lord at all times, his praise always on my lips.  Responsorial Psalm

‘Lord who shall we go to? You have the message of eternal life, and we believe; we know that you are the Holy One of God.’    Gospel

This week’s texts if you want to explore further:

Joshua 24: 1–2.15–18; Psalm 33 (34); Ephesians 5: 21–32; John 6: 60–69