Sunday August 22, 2021 21st Sunday Ordinary Time (Cycle B)
The tie in between today’s readings: Faith Grounded in History is Trusting for the Future.
So, I’m watching TV when an advertisement for a Mutual Fund comes on. The narrator is explaining to me that this is a great investment because of the success it has had in the market for the past five years. Despite the disclaimer that past performance doesn’t indicate future outcome, he still asks you to trust them and buy their fund because of history. Like investments, trust or faith is grounded in history and tries to make a sensible calculation of the future. At times you will be wrong, but try to live your life without it. Buying a gift, planning a vacation, or even getting married: it all takes faith. In the Bible, our faith pleases God because it acknowledges His attributes and gives Him credit that He’ll do what He says. Faith has you act with a divinely ordered set of priorities as you live your life based on God’s promises and direction.
Our reading is Joshua chapter 24. Joshua gathers the nation together and reviews their history with God from Abraham up to their present situation. Based on this, the people pledge their faithful to God for the future. David, in Psalm 34, also encourages us to trust in God for our future based upon his own history with the Lord. Jesus speaks spiritually about Himself being the Bread of Life. No one understands it. No one believes it and the crowd leaves, shaking their heads and thinking that the man they wanted to be their earthly king is nuttier than a Pay Day© bar. Jesus asks the Apostles if they will also leave Him. They don’t know any more theology than the people turning away, but they know Jesus. Their history leads them to trust Him. Peter asks a perceptive question: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and come to know that You are the Holy One of God.” It’s all faith based on history.
Now the hard part: In the Christian life, faith translates into obedience. “God said it. I believe it. That settles it!” Great in theory, but the real challenge is when God tells you to do the hard thing that grates against your very fiber: like forgive your enemy, or give up a habit, or even submit to your husband. In today’s reading, Paul in his letter to the Ephesians gives a beautiful picture of how the marriage relationship mirrors the union of Christ and His Church. This passage is often resisted by the wife in this age of feminism. There’s a breakdown somewhere. It’s difficult for a woman to let herself become venerable. Can you blame her? Look at the man she is supposed to be subordinate to. Husbands have the daunting task of loving, caring, and cherishing their wives as Jesus cares for His bride. A lot of times they’re MIA. Guys! Your wife’s submission has to be earned by a consistent Christ-like walk within your relationship. So, love her, die for her, and take out the trash!
Bottom line is: we walk by faith not by sight. We have a personal God who does not lie or fail. We know that, in this case, past performance does indicate future outcomes. We believe that the One who has proven Himself in history can guide us through the flow of life. A door closes, another opens. A struggle comes and is overcome. We don’t have to understand it all and we’re not going to. But, we can face life’s challenges, as they come, with confidence, knowing that the One who loved us, even to die on a cross, hasn’t brought us this far to drop us now. Where else would you even want to go? The Christian life is an adventure with God. All adventures require faith; why have faith if you can’t test it?