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Sunday Scripture: Lord, to whom shall we go?

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By Sister Betty Jane Lillie, SC

Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time: Joshua 24:1-2a, 15-17, 18b; Psalm 34:2-3, 16-21; Ephesians 5:2a, 25-32; John 6:60-69

Our texts this week center on the theme of serving the Lord God in fidelity to their covenant relationship with Him. The first reading takes up the theme at a point in history when those who had regained Palestine would renew their covenant with their God similar to the one their fathers had at Sinai. They reflected on the exodus event and the great signs God gave them as they worked their way back to their own land. Because of that history they chose to serve the Lord their God.

It was at that time that their leader Joshua called them to put away the foreign gods that they had in their possession and to turn back to the God of Israel.  Echoing the Sinai covenant ceremony, the people affirmed the covenant relationship saying, “The Lord our God we will serve, and his voice we will obey” (Joshua 24:24). Thus the bipartite aspect of the covenant is visible in the text.
In the Gospel reading we have another instance of a showdown among the followers of Jesus concerning who would follow Jesus and who would not. Many of the disciples, who heard Jesus say that they would receive His body and blood, and receive eternal life, found His words to be hard sayings. Therefore, some drew back and no longer went about with Him. When the number thinned, Jesus asked the Twelve whether they also would go away.
Peter’s act of faith was the answer.  “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the holy one of God.” It was important for the Twelve to affirm their faith in Jesus, for if they would walk with Him through the darkness of the crucifixion, they would need to be faithful.  The irony of the situation was that here Peter stood on his faith in Jesus; later he would be the one to falter. However, his threefold avowal of his love saved the relationship.
As with the disciples of Jesus, so with all of His followers, there comes a time of decision making. Jesus asked His question directly, and the answer was direct. Jesus also made the point that even among the Twelve there was one who would not be faithful.
These covenant relationships among God’s people are reflected in some way in the whole pattern of human relationships. Paul draws out the order of the Christian household in his letter to the Ephesians (Ephesians 5:21-32), and that places responsibility on all the members to act in a faith stance of mutual subjection in their domestic interaction. Paul raises the pattern to an image of Christ and the church, (Ephesians 5:29, 32) as well as an allusion to Christian baptism (Ephesians 5:26-27).

With the psalmist we can raise our voices and bless God at all times. “O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together….The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and His ears toward their cry” (Psalm 34).Sister Betty Jane is a faculty member at the Athenaeum of Ohio.


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