21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Note: Homilies & Angelus / Regina Caeli of Pope Saint John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI & Pope Francis I had been compiled for you after the Mass Readings below. Happy Reading!
Readings at Mass
Liturgical Colour: Green.
First Reading: Joshua 24:1-2,15-18
We will serve the Lord, for he is our God
Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel together at Shechem; then he called the elders, leaders, judges and scribes of Israel, and they presented themselves before God. Then Joshua said to all the people, ‘If you will not serve the Lord, choose today whom you wish to serve, whether the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are now living. As for me and my House, we will serve the Lord.’
The people answered, ‘We have no intention of deserting the Lord and serving other gods! Was it not the Lord our God who brought us and our ancestors out of the land of Egypt, the house of slavery, who worked those great wonders before our eyes and preserved us all along the way we travelled and among all the peoples through whom we journeyed? What is more, the Lord drove all those peoples out before us, as well as the Amorites who used to live in this country. We too will serve the Lord, for he is our God.’
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 33(34):2-3,16-23
Taste and see that the Lord is good.
I will bless the Lord at all times, his praise always on my lips;
in the Lord my soul shall make its boast. The humble shall hear and be glad.
The Lord turns his face against the wicked to destroy their remembrance from the earth.
The Lord turns his eyes to the just and his ears to their appeal.
They call and the Lord hears and rescues them in all their distress.
The Lord is close to the broken-hearted; those whose spirit is crushed he will save.
Many are the trials of the just man but from them all the Lord will rescue him.
He will keep guard over all his bones, not one of his bones shall be broken.
Evil brings death to the wicked; those who hate the good are doomed.
The Lord ransoms the souls of his servants. Those who hide in him shall not be condemned.
Second Reading: Ephesians 5:21-32
Christ loves the Church, because it is his body
Give way to one another in obedience to Christ. Wives should regard their husbands as they regard the Lord, since as Christ is head of the Church and saves the whole body, so is a husband the head of his wife; and as the Church submits to Christ, so should wives to their husbands, in everything. Husbands should love their wives just as Christ loved the Church and sacrificed himself for her to make her holy. He made her clean by washing her in water with a form of words, so that when he took her to himself she would be glorious, with no speck or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and faultless. In the same way, husbands must love their wives as they love their own bodies; for a man to love his wife is for him to love himself. A man never hates his own body, but he feeds it and looks after it; and that is the way Christ treats the Church, because it is his body – and we are its living parts. For this reason, a man must leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one body. This mystery has many implications; but I am saying it applies to Christ and the Church.
cf. John 6:63,68
Your words are spirit, Lord, and they are life;
you have the message of eternal life.
Gospel: John 6:60-69
Who shall we go to? You are the Holy One of God
After hearing his doctrine many of the followers of Jesus said, ‘This is intolerable language. How could anyone accept it?’ Jesus was aware that his followers were complaining about it and said, ‘Does this upset you? What if you should see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before?
‘It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh has nothing to offer.
The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.
‘But there are some of you who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the outset those who did not believe, and who it was that would betray him. He went on, ‘This is why I told you that no one could come to me unless the Father allows him.’ After this, many of his disciples left him and stopped going with him.
Then Jesus said to the Twelve, ‘What about you, do you want to go away too?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘Lord, who shall we go to? You have the message of eternal life, and we believe; we know that you are the Holy One of God.’
Acknowledgment: We thank the Publisher for allowing us to publish the Mass Readings to be used as reference for Homilies & Angelus / Regina Caeli of Pope Saint John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI & Pope Francis I as a source of God’s encouragements to all of us around the World.
Homilies, Angelus / Regina Caeli
At the 12th World Youth Day in Paris I was able to experience first-hand the vitality of the "young" Church with its intense enthusiasm and love for Jesus. Young people will be the witnesses and messengers of the Gospel in the third millennium. They will have the leading role in the great task of building that civilization of love to which the human heart aspires.
To fulfil this demanding task, however, they need to be trained, encouraged and guided. They particularly need the constant support of the family, of an authentically Christian family. Here my thoughts turn to another important world event thematically linked with the World Youth Day. I mean the second international meeting of the Pope with families. This meeting will take place in Rio de Janeiro from 2 to 5 October next and will have the theme: "The family, gift and commitment, hope of humanity".
At the next few Sunday gatherings for the recitation of the Angelus, we will have the opportunity to reflect together on the importance of this world meeting, which will forcefully emphasize that the family is the first and fundamental way of the Church. The future of humanity and of the People of God themselves comes through the defence and full development of the family.
Pope Saint John Paul II (Angelus, 31 August 1997)
Almost as a continuation of the Jubilee of Young People, on next Sunday, 3 September, the Jubilee of University Teachers will begin.
Its theme will be: "The University for a New Humanism". At the threshold of the third millennium, the Church once again offers Christ's message to the world of culture, especially that of the university, as the source of a vision of humanity and of the world in which God's plan is fully reflected. In its light new generations can be formed and prepared to face the great challenges of history, to build societies marked by solidarity and concern for individuals, especially the weakest.
It is therefore necessary to foster an intense and attentive dialogue between faith and culture, so that the latter may be reborn from its encounter with the ancient and ever new Good News.
I entrust the fruits of the World Youth Day and the success of the forthcoming Jubilee of Universities to Our Lady, Mother of the Church and Virgin of the total and generous "yes" to the Lord's call. May she help young people to keep alive the burning spark of God's love. May she obtain for everyone an active desire for holiness, in order to be a leaven and Gospel ferment in human cities.
Pope Saint John Paul II (Angelus, 27 August 2000)
In every European country, there are numerous Marian Shrines. In particular, my thoughts today go to the Shrine of Our Lady of Tears in Syracuse, where the 50th anniversary of Mary's lacrimation is being celebrated. I greet with great affection the Archbishop and the community of Syracuse, which precisely tomorrow, 1 September, will solemnly conclude the extraordinary Marian Year proclaimed to commemorate such an amazing event. I greet the many pilgrims who have come from Sicily and from many parts of Italy and the world to venerate "Our Lady of Tears". I greet the group of pilgrims from Syracuse who have brought with them a gold crown to be blessed and to be placed on the Virgin's head.
I remain in devout contemplation before the precious reliquary of the Tears of Our Lady which has visited each ecclesial community of Sicily, stirring emotion and spiritual enthusiasm everywhere. How mysterious these tears are! They speak of suffering and tenderness, of comfort and of divine mercy. They are the sign of a maternal presence and an appeal to conversion to God, leaving the ways of evil to follow Jesus Christ faithfully.
Gentle Lady of Tears, to you we present the Church and the whole world. Look at those who have the most need of forgiveness and reconciliation; bring harmony to families and peace between peoples.
Dry the tears that hatred and violence have caused in many regions of the earth, especially in the Middle East and the African continent.
May your tears, O Mother, be a pledge of conversion and of peace for all your sons and daughters!
Pope Saint John Paul II (Angelus, 31 August 2003)
How many difficulties there are also today in family relations and how many mothers are in anguish at seeing their children setting out on wrong paths! Monica, a woman whose faith was wise and sound, invites them not to lose heart but to persevere in their mission as wives and mothers, keeping firm their trust in God and clinging with perseverance to prayer.
As for Augustine, his whole life was a passionate search for the truth. In the end, not without a long inner torment, he found in Christ the ultimate and full meaning of his own life and of the whole of human history. In adolescence, attracted by earthly beauty, he "flung himself" upon it - as he himself confides (cf. Confessions, 10, 27-38) - with selfish and possessive behaviour that caused his pious mother great pain.
But through a toilsome journey and thanks also to her prayers, Augustine became always more open to the fullness of truth and love until his conversion, which happened in Milan under the guidance of the Bishop, St Ambrose.
He thus remained the model of the journey towards God, supreme Truth and supreme Good. "Late have I loved you", he wrote in the famous book of the Confessions, "beauty, ever ancient and ever new, late have I loved you. You were within me and I was outside of you, and it was there that I sought you.... You were with me and I was not with you.... You called, you cried out, you pierced my deafness. You shone, you struck me down, and you healed my blindness" (ibid.).
May St Augustine obtain the gift of a sincere and profound encounter with Christ for all those young people who, thirsting for happiness, are seeking it on the wrong paths and getting lost in blind alleys.
St Monica and St Augustine invite us to turn confidently to Mary, Seat of Wisdom. Let us entrust Christian parents to her so that, like Monica, they may accompany their children's progress with their own example and prayers. Let us commend youth to the Virgin Mother of God so that, like Augustine, they may always strive for the fullness of Truth and Love which is Christ: he alone can satisfy the deepest desires of the human heart.
Pope Benedict XVI (Angelus, 27 August 2006)
You know that for several Sundays the Liturgy has proposed for our reflection Chapter Six of John's Gospel, in which Jesus presents himself as the "Bread of life... which came down from Heaven", and, he adds: "if anyone eats of this bread, he will live for ever: and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh" (John 6: 51). To the Jews who were arguing heatedly among themselves, questioning: "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" (v. 52) and the world still debates it Jesus replies in every age: "unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you" (v. 53). We too should reflect on whether we have really understood this message. Today, the 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time, let us meditate on the last part of this chapter in which the Fourth Evangelist mentions the reaction of the people and of the disciples themselves. They were shocked by the Lord's words to the point that having followed him until then they exclaimed: "This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?" (v. 60). After this, "many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him" (v. 66) and the same thing has happened over and over again in various periods of history. One might expect Jesus to seek compromises to make himself better understood, but he does not mitigate what he says. On the contrary, he turns directly to the Twelve and asks them: "Will you also go away?" (v. 67).
This provocative question is not only addressed to listeners in his time, but also reaches the believers and people of every epoch. Today too, many are "shocked" by the paradox of the Christian faith. Jesus' teaching seems "hard", too difficult to accept and to put into practice. Then there are those who reject it and abandon Christ; there are those who seek to "adapt his" word to the fashions of the times, misrepresenting its meaning and value. "Will you also go away?" This disturbing provocation resounds in our hearts and expects a personal answer from each one; it is a question addressed to each one of us. Jesus is not content with superficial and formal belonging, a first and enthusiastic adherence is not enough for him; on the contrary, what is necessary is to take part for one's whole life "in his thinking and in his willing". Following him fills our hearts with joy and gives full meaning to our existence, but it entails difficulties and sacrifices because very often we must swim against the tide.
"Will you also go away?". Peter answers Jesus' question on the Apostles' behalf, and in the name of believers of every century: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God" (vv. 68-69).
Dear Brothers and Sisters, at this moment we too can and want to repeat Peter's answer, aware of course of our human frailty, of our problems and difficulties, but trusting in the power of the Holy Spirit which is expressed and manifested in communion with Jesus. Faith is a gift of God to man and at the same time man's free and total entrustment to God; faith is docile listening to the word of the Lord who is the "lamp" for our feet and a "light" for our path (cf. Psalm 119: 105). If we open our hearts to Christ with trust, if we let ourselves be won over by him, we can also experience, like, for example, the holy Curé d'Ars, that "our only happiness on this earth is to love God and to know that he loves us". Let us ask the Virgin Mary always to keep awake within us this faith imbued with love, which made her, a humble girl of Nazareth, the Mother of God and Mother and model of all believers.
Pope Benedict XVI (Angelus, 23 August 2009)
We have a beautiful comment of St Augustine on this passage. In one of his sermons on John 6 he says: “See how Peter, by the gift of God and the renewal of the Holy Spirit, understood Him. How other than because he believed? ‘You have the words of eternal life’. For You have eternal life in the ministration of Your body [Risen] and Your blood [Yourself]. ‘And we have believed and have known’. He does not say: ‘we have known and then believed’, but ‘we have believed and then known’. We believed in order to know; for if we wanted to know first, and then to believe, we should not be able either to know or to believe. What have we believed and known? ‘That You are Christ, the Son of God’; that is, that You are that very eternal life, and that You give in Your flesh and blood only that which You are” (In Evangelium Johannis tractatus, 27, 9). St Augustine addressed this homily to his believers.
Finally, Jesus knew that among the Twelve Apostles there was also one who did not believe: Judas. Judas could have gone away too, as did many of the disciples; indeed, perhaps if he had been honest he would have been bound to leave. Instead he stayed on with Jesus. He did not stay out of faith or out of love, but rather with the secret intention of taking revenge on the Teacher. Why? Because Judas felt let down by Jesus and decided that he, in his turn, would betray Jesus. Judas was a zealot and he wanted a victorious Messiah who would lead a revolt against the Romans. Jesus had not measured up to these expectations. The problem was that Judas did not go away and his greatest sin was his deceitfulness, which is the mark of the Devil. For this reason Jesus said to the Twelve: “One of you is a devil” (John 6:70). Let us pray to the Virgin Mary to help us believe in Jesus, like St Peter, and always to be sincere with him and with everyone.
Pope Benedict XVI (Angelus, 26 August 2012)
At this point Peter makes his confession of faith on behalf of the other Apostles: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (v. 68). He does not say “where shall we go?”, but “to whom shall we go?”. The underlying problem is not about leaving and abandoning the work undertaken, but to whom to go. From Peter’s question we understand that fidelity to God is a question of fidelity to a person, to whom we bind ourselves to walk together on the same road. And this person is Jesus. All that we have in the world does not satisfy our infinite hunger. We need Jesus, to be with him, to be nourished at his table, on his words of eternal life! Believing in Jesus means making him the centre, the meaning of our life. Christ is not an optional element: he is the “Living Bread”, the essential nourishment. Binding oneself to him, in a true relationship of faith and love, does not mean being tied down, but being profoundly free, always on the journey. Each one of us can ask him- or herself: who is Jesus for me? Is he a name, an idea, simply an historical figure? Or is he truly that person who loves me and gave his life for me and walks with me? Who is Jesus for you? Are you with Jesus? Do you try to comprehend him in his word? Do you read the Gospel, each day a passage from the Gospel to learn to know Jesus? Do you carry a small Gospel in your pocket, handbag, to read it, in whatever place? Because the more we are with him the more the desire to be with him grows. Now I ask you, please, let us have a moment of silence and let each one of us silently, in our hearts, ask ourselves the question: “Who is Jesus for me?”. Silently, each one, answer in your heart.
May the Virgin Mary help us to always “go” to Jesus to experience the freedom he offers us, allowing it to cleanse our choices from worldly incrustations and fears.
Pope Francis I (Angelus, 23 August 2015)
Note: This webpage has many hyperlinks to the Vatican Webpage. The above extracts were compiled for your easy reading.
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Compiled on 26 August 2018