Jos 24:1-2a, 15-17, 18b; Eph 5:21-32; Jn 6: 60-69
At the end of the age when all the believers were standing in line waiting to get into heaven, God appeared and said, “I want all the men to form two lines. One line will be for the men who were the true heads of their households. The other will be for the men who were dominated by their wives.” God continued, “I want all the women to report to St. Peter.” The women left and the men formed two lines. The line of men who were dominated by their wives was seemingly unending. The line of men who were the true head of their household had one man in it. God said to the first line, “You men ought to be ashamed or yourselves. I appointed you to be the heads of your households and you were disobedient and have not fulfilled your purpose. Of all of you, there is only one man who obeyed me. Learn from him.” Then God turned to the lone man and asked, “How did you come to be in this line?” The man replied, “My wife told me to stand here.”
We heard in the second reading, “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”. The scripture reading is not taking about power. We all know how Christ loved the Church. Husband and wife are to love each other in a sacrificial way to the end. To do that you must choose to serve God.
We all have small decisions to make and big decisions to make. There is one decision we all have to make, that is to decide for God or not, to live with God first in our life or not. This is the big decision we see being made in the first reading today in the book of Joshua and in the Gospel.
In the first reading after Joshua brought the Hebrews across the river Jordan into the Promised Land of Canaan he asked them to decide whom they would serve, either God or the pagan gods their ancestors had worshipped. Naturally they chose to worship God.
Unfortunately it is a different story in the Gospel today. We see the disciples of Jesus were severely challenged when Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.” One group finding Jesus’ words too hard to take left him and no more walked with him. But Jesus was not about to eliminate the gift of the Eucharist because many were reacting to this belief and leaving him. He was not interested in compromising the truth. When the disciple reported the reaction to his teaching on the Bread of Life to him, his answer was, simply, “Do you also want to leave?” and Peter says, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
Now notice, Peter is not affirming Jesus’ teaching. He is not saying that he is happy with it. He understands why so many people are leaving, but he is going to stay. But he is not staying because he is excited about staying. He is going to stay because where else can he go. Even though Jesus’ teaching is difficult and troublesome, Peter knows that there is no better option available to him.
Now the good news about today’s gospel is that Jesus lets Peter stay. Even though Peter is unhappy, even though he finds the teaching difficult, Jesus is willing to accept Peter as a disciple on those terms. Peter can remain a disciple even though the only reason he is staying is because he does not have a better place to go.
Just because we believe in God does not mean we have answer to everything in life. Sometimes we merely need to hold on because there is no better place to go. And Jesus, like he did with Peter, is more than willing to accept us and our faith on those terms. The good news today is that we are able to pray, “Lord Jesus, even though it is difficult, even though I am confused, even though it hurts, I still believe in you. Because you have the words of eternal life.”
Dear friends! In every circumstance we have the freedom to choose, the freedom to believe that God is real and present. We can choose to remain open to that presence. In every circumstance we have the freedom to live with love, with justice with integrity. Although we cannot always control what we must face in life, we can choose how we will live life. The ups and downs of life are not in control. You are. So decide today to live in mercy and in justice. Decide today to live in love and integrity. Decide today to believe that God is active in this moment and that God is leading you to joy. Decide today together with Joshua, “As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.