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Twenty First Sunday in Ordinary Time
Joshua 24:1-2A, 15-17, 18B
Psalm 34:2-3, 16-17, 18-19, 20-21
Ephesians 5:21-32 or 5:2A, 25-32
John 6:60-69
In Joshua, we are reminded of the monarchical and polytheistic world of
the Israelites and how God delivered His people from slavery. Psalm 34
proclaims God˅s deliverance of those who are brokenhearted or crushed.
And, our reading from Ephesians reflects on Christ˅s union with the
Churchˁwhich parallels the Gospel of John which proclaims that faith is a
gift from God.
Perhaps there is a reason why today˅s readings fall in the summer months
when parishes are frequently supported by visiting preachers. For many in
our age, the themes of today˅s readings are both uncomfortable and chal-
lenging. I recall many times attending Mass with my parents and when this
Epistle was proclaimed, my father would jab my mother playfully. The
chiding back and forth throughout the reading seemed harmless at the
time, but as I matured, this ordering made me uncomfortable. This Epistle
expresses a vertical ordering of relationships and authority. Attempting to
reconcile this cognitive dissonance with my contemporary perspective, I
was encouraged by wise spiritual guides to study the 1
Century world in
which these writings were originally intended.
Thus, let us journey back in time to the early days of our Churchˁbetween
the years 80 and 100 CEˁto view the world our early disciples and follow-
ers of Christ lived in. Culturally, the Graeco-Roman world was governed
by strict household codes. It is hypothesized by many Biblical scholars
that by the time this Epistle and John˅s Gospel were written, the Christian
community had needed to adopt these codes to preserve the integrity of