21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
One may purchase the newest, most expensive appliance, gadget, or toy on the market, but if one does not plug it in, turn the key, or press the button, the item will remain inert. The same is true in the natural and spiritual realms as well. Until God breathed into the clay, the object remained merely a lump of clay. In our spiritual lives, if we do not connect with our source, we are quite dead. In today’s Gospel, we are informed, “It is the Spirit that gives life, while the flesh is to no avail. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life” (John 6:63).
In today’s first reading Joshua, the one appointed by Moses to take over the leadership of the Israelites, gathered the people and presented a choice – will they follow the God of their fathers or shall they turn to other gods? Joshua makes his choice clear, “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (29:16). When the people recalled all the Lord had provided, they declared they too would serve the Lord. Like so many reading these words declaring to keep a promise, these people often strayed. It’s not always easy to keep our promises.
The Responsorial Psalm reminds us that when or if we “taste and see the goodness of the Lord” we should shape up. Who of us has not tasted or seen God’s goodness yet, we’ve gotten off track; we stumble and fall. So often we enjoy the gifts, yet forget the Giver.
In his letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul compares Christ’s relationship with the Church to the intimate relationship of a husband and wife. The Church was so important to Christ that He died that we might live and flourish. The Church referred to here is the teachings of Christ, that is, the Spirit which gives life to the members. This is summed up in the Alleluia verse, “Your words O Lord, are Spirit and life.”
In John’s Gospel before the section in today’s reading, Jesus had fed the five thousand; they had collected the fragments; Jesus had walked on water, but when He said, “I am the bread of life” (6:35) after all He had said and done, many walked away; faith is truly a gift! “The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life” (6:63). These words of Christ provide the power to bring life to dead flesh. They are the plug, the key, the switch that jolt us ALIVE. Let us awaken each morning and plug ourselves in so we may answer as Peter did, “to whom shall we go? You have the words of everlasting life” (6:68).
Sr. Miriam Catherine Nevins, OP