Sunday, August 23, 2015

Lord, to whom else shall we go?

Twenty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B    23 August 2015

Here are the Scripture readings for the day
Twenty-First Sunday readings Year B

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother
and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh….”

It would seem that these are some of the oldest words of wisdom in all of human literature. Who among us has not been affected by a son or daughter or sibling leaving the homestead and moving on to start a new life in marriage?

And yes, there will be sorrow when either we choose to follow the Lord where he calls or those we love choose to follow the Lord where he calls them:

“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
those whose spirit is crushed He will save.”

This leaving forth will require us to say to those around us: “As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” It is countercultural to follow the Lord.

And, yes, it is countercultural and sometimes even counter intuitive to follow the Lord into the depths of marriage, even the difficult days of desperation and heartache. Yet St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is clear:  Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ…. …So also husbands should love their wives as their own bodies…..

This teaching of Christ, dying to self, is particularly felt and experienced in marriage. Even Paul himself refers to it as a mystery, indeed as the mystery of our faith, the dying to self as the two become one flesh. Let’s face it: marriage is hard work, and so is parenting. It is so often a series of dyings and risings.

Paul said “this is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church.”

In our world today, with the tragedy of Tinder, Ashley Madison, hook-up culture, and rampant pornography, is it any wonder why marriage is so threatened? (* see links below)

St. Paul’s teaching on the holiness of Matrimony in his day was as countercultural as it is today.

And Jesus’ teaching today on the necessity of receiving his Body and Blood is just difficult, as is evidenced by the crowd’s response:  “This saying is hard; who can accept it?”

Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this,
he said to them, “Does this shock you?”….

Jesus words in today’s gospel challenge and shock us today just as they did his first century hearers.

In our times, too many people have compromised on the meaning of both Holy Matrimony and the Holy Eucharist.

For too many “Christians” marriage can mean whatever we decide it means, such as a symbol of a union between two persons, but one than can easily be dissolved, and one where children are considered either an option or simply one more consumer good among others.

And as for the Eucharist, many Catholics no longer believe that the Bread and wine are transformed into the very Body and Blood our Christ, but is merely a symbol, a nice token of a bygone era.

Jesus said: “Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man
and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. 
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life,
and I will raise him on the last day. 
For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
remains in me and I in him” (John 6:53-56).

By the way, Jesus did not change the meaning of his words on the Eucharist. He did not say, “Come back, I was speaking symbolically.” He asked "Does this shock you?"

As a result of Jesus’ teaching [on the Eucharist], many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.

Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” 

Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

When Christ asks each of us today:
“Does this shock you?
Do you also want to leave?” 
How will we respond?

[see the hook-up culture  tinder-hook-up-culture-end-of-dating  and
Russell Brand (yes) on the destructiveness of pornography Russell Brand on the effects of Pornography (short version)   or the longer version: *caution, scenes from Fifty Shades of Grey, longer version ]
Amazingly, both Vanity Fair and Russell Brand are truly insightful on their critique of contemporary culture. Fascinating.

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