21st Sunday B. August 22, 2021


August 22, 2021

Joshua 24:1-2a, 15-17, 18b

Ephesians 5:21-32

John 6:60-69

`Is this the region, this the soil, the clime,’
Said then the lost archangel, `this the seat
That we must change for heav’n, this mournful gloom
For that celestial light? Be it so, since he
Who now is sovran can dispose and bid
What shall be right: furthest from him is best
Whom reason hath equalled, force hath made supreme
Above his equals. Farewell happy fields
Where joy for ever dwells: hail horrors, hail
Infernal world, and thou profoundest hell
Receive thy new possessor: one who brings
A mind not to be changed by place or time.
The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.
What matter where, if I be still the same,
And what I should be, all but less than he
Whom thunder bath made greater? Here at least
We shall be free; the almighty hath not built
Here for his envy, will not drive us hence:
Here we may reign secure, and in my choice
To reign is worth ambition though in hell:
Better to reign in hell, than serve in heaven.

From Paradise Lost, John Milton.

You and I today have decided to serve the Lord.

Your presence as church this evening tells the world it is better to serve in heaven, than to rule in hell.

Perhaps it was not easy for you to get here today. There may have been obstacles, distractions and temptations tempting you to stay away.

But you are here and being here says, “As for me, I will serve the Lord.”

Catholic worship can be boring and hard. It can be hard to worship God as a Catholic particularly if you are young or old, Black or White, man or woman, gay or straight, working class or white collar, traditional or Vatican II.

Because many of His disciples found the sayings of Jesus hard, the Bible says, they “returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.”

I am sure some of you know such people. They may be family or friends of yours; they have found the sayings of Jesus hard as interpreted through the Catholic church.

It might be said that when we celebrate the sacraments we are wasting time with the Lord. When time is money and there is no money to be gained by going to mass, or confession, or first communion or Confirmation, or holy matrimony, then what is the point?

The disciples who remained with Jesus said, “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.”

They said this before Jesus went up to Jerusalem; before he was arrested and found guilty. Before he was sentenced to death to die like a criminal hung from a manmade tree.

Sitting, perhaps uncomfortably in the pew as time is passing, you testify that in the Catholic Church you have found that Jesus has the words of eternal life and that you are coming to believe that Jesus is the Holy One of God.

Some of us have gone all the way to Golgotha for this testimony and some of us are just now starting the journey.

When you have been to Golgotha – the place of the skulls- worship is not wasting time, worship is fulfilling time.

You know church, an atheist can feed the hungry, cloth the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned. But only the believer will worship God.

Sacramental worship is justice to God and only the person who knows how God is saving them every day can eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man.

Knowing -experiencing how God is saving you every day- all you can do is cry all of your tears, laugh all of your laughter, beat your drum, sing your song and dance your dance.

Joshua’s tribe remembered what the Lord had done for them: Brought them out of Egypt, out of a state of slavery, protected them on their entire journey.

When you are in touch with what the Lord has done and is now doing for you, you will serve in heaven.

When what the Lord has done for you you feel in your body, You will experience the Words of eternal life and

when you are subordinate to the Church as the Church is subordinate to Christ then

You will eat the living bread that has come down from heaven.

Part II.

Joshua’s address to all the people is addressed to U.S. today. In this year of COVID and cold civil war where Abel seeks to kill Cain. Where Rachel envies Lea. Where Hagar’s son is rejected for Sarah’s son, where right and left are become left and right and where masks are symbols of who you serve, Joshua says, “If it does not please you to serve the Lord, decide today whom you will serve, the gods beyond the river”, the gods of science, technology and social media.

The Satan of Paradise Lost makes it clear that rather than serve and honor dust even star dust formed in the image and likeness of God – Jesus the Christ- Satan would rather rule in Hell; make heaven into hell, than be subordinate to the Son of Man.

Jesus is the Son of Man and Satan will not submit It’s will to the will of God. Hell It prefers and all hell on earth will It create.

With gangster swagger Jesus says, “I am the living bread that has come down from heaven and the bread that I will give to eat, is my flesh for the life of the world”.

Does this shock you?

It did.

It does.

And so there was murmuring and grumbling and arguing and dissension and finally “many of his disciples returned to their [comfortable] ways of life and no longer accompanied Jesus”.

The people said, “This saying is hard. Who can accept it?”

Many people cannot accept the hard sayings of Jesus who says, the first will be last; let the dead bury the dead; who is my mother, my family; sell all that you have and follow me; cursed be you scribes and Pharisees clean on the outside and corrupted dead men’s bones on the inside; forgive seventy times seven times; love your enemies, I have come to set the world on fire.

Many Christians cannot accept the hard sayings of Jesus and therefore they cannot recognize and do not eat the flesh and drink the blood of He who is the Bread of Life.

We are living in the apocalypse; a time when the veil is being lifted and we are revealed to ourselves and to each other.

On the spiritual level we reveal who we serve, we reveal what we eat, we reveal the kingdom of God or Satan’s city of Pandemonium

Now what do you believe?