Twenty-first Sunday in
A Homily - Cycle B - 2011-2012
by Fr. Luke Dundon
First Reading - Joshua 24:1-2a, 15-17, 18b
Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 34:2-3, 16-17, 18-19, 20-21
Second Reading - Ephesians 5:21-32
Gospel - John 6:60-69
John wrote to show that Christ was
the Messiah, the Divine Son of God.
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 came 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."
If you lived in the 17th Century, you would probably feel a little uncomfortable. For a long time, most people believed that the sun revolved around the earth. But then a physicist named Galileo said that the earth revolved around the sun. That was hard to swallow. . .why? Because what EVERYONE ELSE was thinking was mistaken, it needed to change.
Likewise, if you lived during Jesus' time, you might also start to feel a little uncomfortable. Faithful disciples were listening to Jesus tell them that they must eat His flesh and drink His blood. His FLESH is TRUE FOOD and His BLOOD is TRUE DRINK. No one else had ever thought that! Jesus, you must be mistaken! And then they realized that Jesus was hard to beat . . . Every word He spoke had more truth than anything else ever spoken. When he told Peter to walk on water, He did. When He told a dead girl to arise, she arose. When He says that bread and wine are His flesh and blood . . . it is. When He says we need to eat it and drink it . . . we do. Obviously, even when He rocks our world, Jesus does NOT make mistakes!
I think we can relate. We hear words proclaimed today which also might cause us to feel a little uncomfortable. Our Lord continues to challenge what "everyone else" thinks - - - and today, in the 2nd reading, it relates to marriage. Marriage, which has been accepted by so many to be a simple union between two random people - - - and yet today St. Paul clarifies the issues - - - he mentions one husband, and one wife. No other combination reflects the truth of married love. He clarifies the issue even further - wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. The husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the Church. No other relationship reflects the beauty of married love. Uncomfortable yet? I'd be lying if I said that this reading is used often in wedding Masses. But it is STILL God's Word, and His Word NEVER makes mistakes!
Pope Pius XI helped to clarify this reading when he said that "the submission of the wife neither ignores nor suppresses the liberty to which her dignity as a human person and her noble functions as wife, mother and companion give her the full right." She still has liberty, dignity, equality! Rather, he says, it shows that the wife is intimately bound to the husband, as the heart is to the head. Bound like organs in a body, for life! The husband is the head of the family, while the wife is the HEART. This is no accidental symbolism. Every husband and wife truly reflects this relationship Christ has with His Church. Husbands, consequently, need to love and serve their wives, for if they ignore their womanly spouse, they ignore their own heart. Without the heart, the head would not survive! And so, gentlemen, if you're called to be a husband, you too are called to a life of LOVING the heart of your vocation, your wife! We all know, our hearts demand constant attention and care. PERMANENT attention and care. Only then will marriages be filled with joy! Most of that 2nd reading is directed to us men - - - probably on purpose, because WE NEED IT! In a world where men think commitment is impossible, St. Paul says, it IS possible - - - and it's NEEDED. Wives NEED a head to lead and protect, and husbands NEED a heart which gives life through love.
And yet we know, while there are great blessing, there is also the cross. Sometimes the marriage suffers. Friction and separation may happen, the heart and head can be lost from each other, and that doesn't bring comfort; but we CAN have faith in the truth that Jesus STILL has the words of eternal life, so we always know where to turn! The Lord hasn't moved at all, HE provides the words of comfort. And we can respond . . . every time we stand to profess our faith. Starting today, let's say each word like we mean it - with force and conviction! In a world where majority rules, when we profess the creed, we say, Lord, YOU RULE! YOU give meaning to my marriage, to my life, YOU have the words of ETERNAL life, and so, even when we're lost, even when life is difficult, we can still say, I BELIEVE, IN YOU - the ONLY one who never makes mistakes. And THAT gives us comfort that the world will NEVER take away.