Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary TimeB

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

Joshua gathered together all the tribes of Israel at Shechem,
summoning their elders, their leaders,
their judges, and their officers.
When they stood in ranks before God,
Joshua addressed all the people:
"If it does not please you to serve the LORD,
decide today whom you will serve,
the gods your fathers served beyond the River
or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are now dwelling.
As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."

But the people answered,
"Far be it from us to forsake the LORD
for the service of other gods.
For it was the LORD, our God,
who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt,
out of a state of slavery.
He performed those great miracles before our very eyes
and protected us along our entire journey
and among the peoples through whom we passed.
Therefore we also will serve the LORD, for he is our God."

Reading 2 (Eph 5:21-32)

Brothers and sisters:
Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord.
For the husband is head of his wife
just as Christ is head of the church,
he himself the savior of the body.
As the church is subordinate to Christ,
so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives,
even as Christ loved the church
and handed himself over for her to sanctify her,
cleansing her by the bath of water with the word,
that he might present to himself the church in splendor,
without spot or wrinkle or any such thing,
that she might be holy and without blemish.
So also husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.
He who loves his wife loves himself.
For no one hates his own flesh
but rather nourishes and cherishes it,
even as Christ does the church,
because we are members of his body.
For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother
and be joined to his wife,
and the two shall become one flesh.
This is a great mystery,
but I speak in reference to Christ and the church.

Gospel (Jn 6:60-69)

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 can 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."


Fr. Anthony Dinh Minh Tien, O.P.

I. THEME: The most important decision of our life

            People frequently make decisions in their life; many aren’t very important such as to eat, to drink or to wear; but some are very important because they affect all of their life such as to choose a career, to marry with someone or to believe in a religion. When people make a decision, they must be responsible for and receive all the related results; therefore they must know how to wisely decide. In order to do that, people need to learn and to think about all possible results which can happen.

            Today readings illustrate the cases which people made a wise decision. In the first reading, the leader Joshua gathered people in a big meeting at Shechem to convince the Israelites to make a decisive decision: either to worship the One God or the foreign gods. They chose to worship the One God. In the second reading, the married couple must choose for themselves a model to follow in order to be happy and loyal to each other to the end. St. Paul gave them an ideal model about the union between Christ and his Church. According to this model, a wife needs to obey her husband in all things as the Church obeys Christ; and in exchange, a husband must love his wife as his own body as Christ loves and sacrifices for the Church. In the Gospel, after Jesus worked two big miracles, taught and revealed for people about the sacrament of the Eucharist, two opposite reactions happened: Some chose to leave him because they couldn’t accept “to eat his flesh and to drink his blood” to live. But Peter represented for the Twelve chose to remain and to proclaim their faith in Jesus: “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.”

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

1.1/ You have freedom to choose a god for yourselves to worship: After conquered all surrounded nations and settled the Israelites in the Promise Land, Joshua knew that he had fulfilled God’s given mission and is ready to go to his ancestors, he gave an order to gather all the tribes of Israel, the elders, the leaders, the judges and the scribes at Shechem. They came and stood before God’s presence.

            Then Joshua said these words to all the Israelites: "Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: In times past your fathers, down to Terah, father of Abraham and Nahor, dwelt beyond the River and served other gods. If it does not please you to serve the Lord, decide today whom you will serve, the gods your fathers served beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are dwelling. As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

1.2/ We choose to worship God: Before making their decision, the Israelites reflected their past to recognize what God has done for them during the Exodus and accompanied them forty years in deserts. They didn’t know about the gods which their ancestors worshipped beyond the River (probably Euphrates river) because they belong to a younger generation and no one mentioned these gods to them, nor the gods of the Amorites because they have just made a short contact with these people.

            So, they responded: “Far be it from us to forsake the Lord for the service of other gods. For it was the Lord, our God, who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, out of a state of slavery. He performed those great miracles before our very eyes and protected us along our entire journey and among all the peoples through whom we passed.”

2/ Reading II: “This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the Church.”

            To protect their happiness and safety, both husband and wife must decide to do the necessary things because only one of them shall not be enough to protect it. St. Paul gave us an ideal model which is deeper and more universal to describe the relationship between husband and wife.

2.1/ The wife’s duty: He said, "Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body. As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything." The purpose of obedience is for the unity in the family and the Church. If one body can’t have two heads, a family, a nation or the Church can’t have two leaders or two gods.

2.2/ The husband’s duty: St. Paul continued, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her.” Three main things Christ did to express his love for the Church.

            (1) Jesus sacrifices himself for the Church: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends” (Jn 15:13). Christ sacrificed himself to redeem sins and for the Church not to die, but to live.

            (2) Jesus purifies and sanctifies the Church by water and the eternal word: Since Christ wants to have the Church “in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish,” he used water to purify the Church from sins, words to teach and to correct, and the grace of the sacraments to sanctify all members of the Church.

            (3) Jesus nourishes and cares for the Church as his own body: Similarly, “husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church,because we are members of his body.”

3/ Gospel: “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

            Christ’s teaching about the sacrament of the Eucharist led people to the two opposite decisions.

3.1/ Many disciples withdrew and no longer followed Jesus: “Then many of his 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 can 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.”

            Why did the disciples withdrew and no longer followed Jesus? Below are some possible reasons:

            (1) They didn’t recognize Jesus’ identity: because if they recognized, they shouldn’t leave him. They didn’t think that Jesus is the only solution for their life. Jesus realized this is his most important mission so he did everything to light up the faith in people.

            (2) They didn’t understand Jesus’ revelation and teaching: First, they didn’t understand God’s plan of salvation. Secondly, they didn’t know about the ultimate goal of life and how to achieve that goal. Lastly, they didn’t understand why they must eat Jesus’ flesh and drink his blood to have life and to attain eternal life.

            (3) They completely depended on human reason and didn’t know human beings have limitations: They think that they only believe what they can understand and refuse to believe what exceeds their understanding. Jesus clearly said faith and the mystery of the Eucharist exceed human understanding; they can only understand them with God’s grace (6:37, 44, 65).

            (4) They didn’t know or didn’t understand or misunderstood Scripture: Jesus corrected them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven” (6:32); and this is the figure of what he was talking to them about the Eucharist. He fulfilled what the prophets prophecized (Isa 54:13, Jer 31:33-34) when he sit in their midst to teach them what belong to God.

3.2/ Peter represented for the twelve proclaimed his faith in Jesus: Finally, “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."

            - The Fourth Gospel didn’t mention Peter’s declaration of faith at Caersarea Philippi; but replaced it by his proclamation in today passage.

            - "The Holy One of God:" can be compared to “the Messiah” or “the Anointed” in the Synoptists. There are only three persons who were called the Holy One in the Fourth Gospel: the Father (17:11), Christ (6:69), and the Holy Spirit (1:33, 14:26, 20:33). Since the Trinity is holy by nature, they can sanctify people.

            Let examine the possible reasons which Peter might use to proclaim his faith in Jesus:

            (1) Peter witnessed at least two Jesus’ miracles from the beginning of chapter 6: The Multiplication of the Loaves to feed five thousand men and Jesus’ Walking on the Sea. The purpose of miracles is to light up the faith. Witnessed these two big miracles, Peter recognized Jesus possessed God’s power.

            (2) Peter has heard Jesus’ revelation and his wise teaching; especially the revelation about the ultimate goal of human life (Jn 6:39-40). People live in this world for a purpose which is to attain the eternal happiness with God. In order to attain this purpose, people need to believe in Christ.

            (3) Peter listened to Jesus when he explained Scripture: Many people read Scripture, but it isn’t meant that they also understand it. Jesus explained about manna and the necessary connection with the mystery of the Eucharist; and about the Isaiah and Jeremiah’s prophecies, “all shall be taught by God.” Jesus pointed out for people to see that he comes to fulfill these prophecies when he sit in their midst to teach them about God’s mysteries.

            (4) Peter listened to Jesus’ conversation with the Jews: These conversations are necessary to recognize truth from falsity. The Jewish misunderstanding was corrected by Christ’s wise and firm arguments.

            (5) Peter knew God, himself and human limitations: Peter confessed the truth, “Only God can have the words of eternal life.” People don’t invent the truth, but to learn the truth from God. When people don’t understand the truth, it isn’t meant that the truth isn’t existed; but because the human ability is limited and poor.

            (6) Peter knew how to summarize all of the above to come up to his final conclusion is to declare his faith in Jesus. This is the important step because many, though they well understood each part, don’t know how to put everything together or come to the true conclusion.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - We must spend much time to learn in order to make a wise decision. If we don’t want to learn, we shall easily make an immature or wrong decision.

            - “If it is wrong an inch, the result shall be wrong a mile.” A wrong decision shall lead us to great damages and prevent us to attain the ultimate goal of our life.

            - The sacrament of the Eucharist is very important for our life. A wrong understanding about this sacrament shall cause many damages for our life and prevent us attain the eternal life. 

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