Twenty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B, 22nd August 2021

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

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.