Sunday Scripture Readings

TWENTY-FIRST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, AUGUST 24 Joshua 24:1-2, 15-17, 18; Psalm 34; Ephesians 5:21-32; John 6:60-69 OUR GOOD NEWS: Our God is the God of the ordinary! "Wives should be submissive to their husbands ..." It is doubly a pity to be put off by allegedly sexist (male-dominant) language and bias in today’s second reading, for that is to misunderstand as well as to miss the real point. Like any other human organization, marriage and family life are governed in part by rules based on authority ("Ask your mother ..."; "Dad, may I ...?"; "Dear, what do you think ...?") Further, male chauvinists take cold comfort in Paul’s teaching. Whatever advantage he gave to husbands he immediately rescinded: selfish, insensitive dominance cannot be reconciled with his command that the man "love" his wife. The general principle of mutuality stated at the beginning governs the entire unit: "Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ." In this passage, Paul said very little about wifely duty; rather, he focused on the husband’s love, which he dared to model on Christ’s totally selfless love for His Church. More substantively, Paul dared to ground in heaven an institution regarded in many religions as a purely secular arrangement at best; at worst, degrading and to be avoided by "true believers." Through their marriage, Christian wife and husband actualize in their everyday world the invisible love binding Christ to his Church. Equally, the more a married couple learn, through prayer and sacramental life, to encounter the Lord within the gathered Christian community, the more they plumb the deepest meaning of their marriage relationship. Finally, through their marriage relationship couples reveal the awesome mystery of Christ’s selfless, tender love for his Church. The responsorial verse and introductory stanza, repeated from the previous two Sundays, today take on new depth. This psalm speaks to Christians overwhelmed by feelings of futility and hopelessness. It encourages perseverance to the end, when we shall eventually "taste" (fully realize through personal experience) and "see" (everything, past, present and future, falling into place) "the goodness of the Lord!" This word of encouragement especially applies to married couples in the inevitable ups and downs of daily life. "God," we are assured, "has eyes (special concern) for," and ready "ears" to answer the appeal of, the needy who live according to His will. Although evildoers may enjoy prosperity and fame, their memory will eventually be blotted out as a sign of ill omen. Present appearances deceive! However overwhelming our distress, we need only turn to God in humility and trust. God "watches over" each one’s "bones" — preserves the godly amid terrible afflictions. (To "break one’s bones" means to be afflicted with disease or oppression.) Evildoers are eventually destroyed by their own deeds, but God intervenes to deliver ("redeem") repentant sinners. Supported by personal and community experience, we — especially married couples — affirm that, although God doesn’t make life easier for his faithful, He always remains close to us to hear and answer with sympathy, support and eventual final, full deliverance.

A subscription is required to access this content.

Current online and print subscribers, click here to login and view this article.

Please click here to subscribe to the St. Louis Review. You may subscribe to the online edition only or both the online and print editions.

If you already have a subscription and are still unable to access this information, please contact the St. Louis Review.

Why does the St. Louis Review require a subscription to access content online? (Click to view).

No votes yet