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13 Pentecost, Year B: The World We Leave, and Love

SUNDAY’S READINGS | August 22, 2021

1 Kgs. 8:(1, 6, 10-11), 22-30, 41-43 or Josh. 24:1-2a, 14-18
Ps. 84 or Ps. 34:15-22
Eph. 6:10-20
John 6:56-69

A commitment to the Christian life requires constant renewal. As if speaking to our time, Joshua said to all the people. “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: ‘Now therefore revere the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord’” (Josh. 24:2, 14-15). The answer to this challenge does not occur in a single moment. “Then the people answered, ‘Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods’” (Josh. 24:16).

When Jesus Christ calls, he commands that we leave the world behind, the world and its plethora of false gods. This departure, however, incites the “wiles of the devil,” and an attack ensues in the wilderness of one’s soul. “For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). In myriad ways, cosmic powers and spiritual forces, that is, the assumed though largely unacknowledged influences that sell depravity, evil, and death as if they were goodness itself, press in on all sides.

They will not relent, not until God is all in all. In the meantime, we “put on Christ” as defensive gear. “Therefore put on the whole armor of God” (Eph. 6:13). The belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, shoes that make one ready to proclaim the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit are all invisible armor against an unseen enemy. In a sense, the truth of the gospel, the call to righteousness, the gift of peace, the life of faith, the joy of salvation cannot coexist with the gods of this present age because they are gods and ministers of death. “If any want to become my followers,” says Jesus, “let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. … For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?” (Mark 8:34-36) The cross of Jesus Christ is the crushing weight of renouncing the world, not because the world, as God created it, is evil, but because it has fallen into evil and death. “The world” has rejected Jesus Christ.

And yet God so loved the world. Called out of the world, we are eventually sent back into the world as witnesses of a new humanity in Christ. Like the Gerasene demoniac, we are sent home to declare “how much the Lord has done, and what mercy he has shown you” (Mark 5:19). So we leave the world in order to reenter the world as new beings.

Armed with the gospel of peace, we are also nourished with the very life of Christ. “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me” (John 6:56-57). We open our souls to the spiritual flesh and blood of Christ as the sustenance that preserves us in body and soul unto everlasting life. Be vigilant; be confident in God.

Look It Up

John 6:68

Think About It

Spiritual armor and spiritual food are “eternal life.”


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