'Hear the Word!' by Bill Ayres: 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted by Bill Ayres on Aug 21, 2021 6:00:00 AM

Twenty first sunday in Ordinary Time_2021_imageA reading from the Book of Joshua

(Chapter 24:1-2a, 15-17, 18b)

When Moses knew he was about to die, he chose Joshua as the new leader of Israel. In this reading, the people are in the Promised Land, but they are not alone. There are several other groups, and each has its own gods. Joshua tells the people that they must choose: the God who revealed himself to Moses or false gods. The people have a very vivid memory of all that the Lord did for them, leading them out of their captivity in Egypt, so they choose the Lord.

This is a critical decision in the history of Israel, but it is not the last. There will be a series of decisions that lead the people to defeat, exile, and slavery once again. Whenever they turn away from God or do not trust God’s love and mercy, disaster befalls them.

Can you think of parallels in our lives today?

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 34)

“Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.” Sometimes God’s unconditional love and mercy are so good you can almost taste them.

A reading from St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians

(Chapter 5:21-32)

How can we reconcile these two sentences? “Be subordinate to one another out of reverence to Christ” and “Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord.” This second sentence sounds sexist and is heard that way today by women as well as most men. It comes from the Judeo-Christian culture of the first century in which the status of women was better that it was in much of the world but not up to the standards we expect, or strive for, now.

Pope Francis, in his encyclical letter Laudate Si!, condemns any behavior in which people use the wonders of the earth for their material wealth while destroying environmental resources. Francis challenges the dominance of the super-rich over those who live in poverty. He also speaks in solidarity with the billions of women who, even in this age, are treated as chattel. Afghanistan, again under the control of the Taliban, threatens to become again a prime example of this. Great strides for the freedom and education of women were made in the past 20 years. We need to support these heroic women in any way we can and help settle the thousands of Afghans who will be allowed to emigrate to our country

The pope also has called on bishops and other leaders of our Church to treat women as partners in God’s work and not discriminate against them or limit their influence. We can pray that Francis will continue to pursue this goal and that the Church at all levels will respond.

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John

(Chapter 6:60-69)

Throughout the history of Israel, there were many people who claimed to be the Messiah, so it is not shocking that many of those who initially followed Jesus because they saw him as a powerful healer and a prophet could not take the next and vital step.

What about us? Do we believe Jesus when he says, “The words that I speak to you are Spirit and life?” Are the words of Jesus healing for you when you are depressed, disappointed, or despairing? Do you believe him when he says, “I am with you always?” Can you reach down into your heart and open yourself to the ever–present Spirit of God?

These themes were too much for some of the disciples, and they turned away from Jesus. Maybe sometimes we find ourselves in the same situation. It is just too hard. That is when the presence of the Spirit can come forward within us so that we will not be overcome by the darkness that may surround us.

Photo (detail) by Colin Blenis on Unsplash

Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.

Bill Ayers was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. Bill was a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.


Topics: Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, RENEW International, Indwelling of the Holy Spirit, treatment of women, women in the Church, status of women, care for those in poverty

Bill Ayres

Written by Bill Ayres

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