Wow, so let me ask you: Were you at Mass this morning? (Say yes, say yes…!.)
First, there was Joshua: He’s called together delegates from all the tribes of Israel. He wants to know, where are their loyalties? Whom will they serve? The gods of the Amorites, in whose land they are now living? Or will they serve the God of the Israelites, the one true God?
He tells them outright what he will do. It’s the scripture which hangs on countless dining room walls, and which was painted by a group of rowdy teenagers on the roof over my front door (as I recounted once long ago):
“As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
Then there was that great scripture from the second chapter of Ephesians.
You know the one: It’s held in disdain by gender feminists who shrink from the admonition to “be subordinate” to their husbands—as though we aren’t all supposed to serve one another in love, just as Jesus served his apostles and, through his saving death and resurrection, all of us.
Ephesians 2 is frequently chosen by young couples to be read during their wedding ceremonies. And it doesn’t, as some fear, demonstrate women’s inferiority to men. No: the challenge issued to men is even bigger. Ephesians calls on men to “love their wives, just as Christ loved his church.” And how did Christ love the church? Why, with his very life! Men are to love their wives enough to die to self and to, if necessary, die for them.
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.
And as if that weren’t enough to gnaw on for the week, then there’s the Gospel—the third prophetic reading of the day. Today’s reading from the sixth chapter of John continues what we’ve been hearing for the past few weeks, what is called the Bread of Life discourse—that teaching by Jesus in which he unpacks the Eucharist, which is the true Body and Blood of Christ.
Jesus has been increasingly clear, in his teachings, about the Eucharist. Soon he will be leaving the earth and ascending to the Father; but before he does, he wants to leave the gift of Himself. He tells the disciples that he will give them his own flesh to eat, his blood to drink.
This is strange talk—why, no one has ever said anything this preposterous with a straight face!—and some of the disciples, faced with this hard saying, walk away. Jesus watches as the crowd grows smaller, and he asks his apostles: “Will you too go away?”
Here’s where it gets really great: Peter—that blustery, bumbling apostle who sometimes disappoints us with his simple humanity, his fear, his pride—stands strong this time. Peter asks,
“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of everlasting life.”
Peter is right.
And I am inspired, truly inspired.