21st Sunday in Ordinary Time (August 26, 2012)
Jos 24:1-2a, 15-17, 18b
A young man was walking home one snowy, winter day. He would always cut across a certain field because it was shorter than walking all the way around the twisting road ahead. He’d done it a thousand times before. There was a large lake just past the field that was usually frozen this time of year. Normally the ice was so thick, you could walk on it and that’s just what he did. Only this time, when he reached the middle of the lake, he heard a pop followed by dreadfully, ire cracking noise. In an instant he had fallen through the ice and was thrashing around in the bitterly cold water. He couldn’t swim and there was nobody around to help him. His arms and legs were quickly losing feeling and he was on the verge of going under the water for the last time. In sheer desperation he called out, “Jesus, Son of God, help me!” Suddenly Jesus came down from heaven and wrapped his loving arms around the man. “Thank you Jesus for saving me!” “Don’t worry my son, I’ve got you.” “Quick Jesus, pull us out of the water, I can barely feel my arms and legs anymore.” Jesus then said, “My son, I am going to save you, but not the way you think. I need you to stop thrashing around and trust me. Now…I need you to drown with me.”
What would you do? Would you ask God if there was anyone else up there that could help instead?
Whom do you serve…
Sometimes we hear Jesus’ teachings or read other sayings in the bible and they don’t always make sense at first glance. It’s as if you do a double take when you come across one of these…
For instance, in that second reading today, did St. Paul really just tell women to be subordinate to their husbands? Yup, he sure did! There you go, another example of why the Catholic Church is sexist and how women are always being suppressed! Now hold on a minute, let’s take a closer look…. The passage reads, “Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord (Ok, stop there for a second. Another word for subordinate is submission. Submission means to be under the mission of someone. So here it’s saying that wives need to be under the mission of their husbands. But what’s the mission? Let’s keep reading). Husbands love your wives even as Christ loved the church (how did Christ love the church?) and handed himself over to her to sanctify her. Husbands should love their wives as their own body.” WOW! This is not a scriptural defense saying that men are superior to women at all! Sorry men. St. Paul is telling wives to allow their husbands to serve them and be willing to lay down their lives for them just as Christ laid down his life for his bride the Church. So women, raise your hands if you now think this is one of the coolest verses in the bible. Whom do you serve…
What about last week’s Gospel? It too requires a second glance. Did Jesus just tell the people to “eat me?” Yup, actually in the original Greek Jesus didn’t use the word “eat” like one would use to describe eating a hamburger or a hotdog, he used the version of the word “eat” that means to “gnaw,” the same way a dog would chew on a piece of meat or a bone. And keep in mind that he’s telling this to a group of Jews who had very strict dietary guidelines against eating certain flesh and meat. Well there you go, another reason Catholics are crazy, I knew they were cannibals! Surely Jesus just meant this symbolically right? He can’t possibly expect us to believe that we are “eating his flesh?” This saying is hard, who can possibly accept it? Today’s Gospel gives us the answer to this tough question. Notice Jesus didn’t say, “Sorry guys, time out, you must have misunderstood me. I didn’t really mean that you had to eat me, come back, let me explain it better.” Nope, he stood there and said, “Does this shock you? The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” For all of the conspiracy theorists out there, this is one of my favorites! John 6, verse 66 (get it, 666 which is the mark of the beast in the Book of Revelation) says that because of this hard teaching, “many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.” They walked away from the Son of God over this teaching, which is the foundation of our Catholic belief on the real presence in the Eucharist. Whom do you serve…
Jesus constantly challenges us to conform our lives to the Gospel. And here I’m not talking about the Gospel that some of us twist to fit our own personal agenda. No, I’m talking about the actual Gospel as it was meant to be understood. Jesus uses THIS Gospel to ask us to make some big and very difficult changes that will often require us to take a second look because they don’t make sense at first; sometimes they are small and easy changes that we can do without a second thought. But we always have to strive to make the right choices in life using the teachings of Christ and His Church as our moral guide. Granted we will sometimes be heading down a path, which we think is correct, only to suddenly fall through the ice. At that point, we have a choice. We can thrash around violently and resist. Or we can call out to Jesus for help, allow Him to wrap his loving arms around us and drown with Him.
I ask you one last time, whom do you serve?
Peter, Jesus’ most trusted Apostle fell through the ice when he denied that he even knew Jesus, not once, but three times. However, when Jesus asked Peter that very question, I believe he answered perfectly when he said, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. You are the Holy One of God.”
May we all strive to serve Christ in every action of every day!