Sunday Reflection: 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time ( Year B )


This Sunday’s readings seem to have one strong theme in common; they all invite us to a commitment. In the first reading Joshua, at the end of the long journey through the desert from Egypt to the promised land, once again asks the people of Israel whether they were ready to accept God’s covenant and commit themselves as faithful followers of God and his commandments. The people of Israel accept to honour this commitment, even though we know that very often, during their Old Testament journey, they failed in this promise. The story of the people of God reflects our own life journey, we too often promise to be faithful, and yet we need to humbly admit our sinfulness.

In the gospel reading many of Jesus’ disciples turn away from him as they find his teaching difficult to accept. Jesus turns around to the twelve, those closest to him, and ask them too: ‘What are you going to do? Are you going to go away too?’ Jesus was not afraid of losing even those closest to him, being a Christian is based on a decision to follow Jesus, whatever the cost. Peter answers in the name of the twelve: ‘To whom shall we go?’ What about us? Do we too remain faithful to our commitment?

Paul talks to the Ephesians about the commitment of a husband towards his wife in marriage. This is not a matter of who has priority in the family but an insistence on the deep relationship that needs to exist between husband and wife. This commitment reflects the commitment of Christ, the spouse, towards the Church, his wife. When the husband loves his wife, he is actually loving his own self, because in marriage they are one body. When Jesus loves the Church, he too is loving himself, as the Church is the body of Christ, and Christ is the head.

Further reading

The Servant of God Joseph De Piro has two homilies talking about matrimony. In one of these he draws a parallelism between the relationship of Christ with his Church and of the husband towards his wife.

Christ’s love towards the Church

  • Jesus loves the Church with such a great love that he shed his blood for her, gave himself for her in the Eucharist.
  • Jesus protects the Church. He gives her strength to face all the challenges and difficulties that daily life brings about. Jesus helps his Church to be victorious in all battles.
  • The Spirit helps and guides her to walk along the road of truth and justice.

The husband towards his wife in marriage

  • A holy bond of two hearts whose love and affection are a duty.
  • God has placed the husband close to his wife and endowed him with a strong will power, a deep sense of reflection, more energy and courage to face the never ending battle for existence. God has placed the husband to defend his wife, to protect her, to look after her and has given him the courage for his initiative.

The Church towards Christ

  • Through her tenderness the Church reciprocates all that Christ does for her. This happens whenever she speaks to the hearts and minds of its members about Jesus, from whom she encourages and entices them to love him. Jesus’ life and actions are celebrated and remembered in the beauty of her solemn liturgies, which surround and encapsulate the royal presence of her divine groom.
  • The Church consoles the Sacred Heart of Jesus that is offended and hurt by many rebellious people.

The wife towards the husband in marriage

  • The wife is more gifted in the area of emotions, gentleness and piety than her husband. Her mission is to make people happy; to make her husband’s life and existence better and to rub balsam on the wounds that the cruel events of everyday life inflict on his heart. The wife is a source of consolation and support for her husband.

Christ and his Church

  • Jesus and his Church have the same holy aim: to strengthen and encourage people who have been generated and grown for a life of grace through the blood of Christ and the sacraments of the Church.

The husband and his wife

  • When God bestows the grace of parenthood on a couple, a new mission starts for them. They need to prepare for worldly and the eternal future of their children and for the most noble science and very delicate vocation of forming their heart and mind.
  • In their peaceful domestic sanctuary the couple need to form honest, loyal, virtuous, good and courageous Christians.

(Translated by John Taliana mssp)