The Most Holy Trinity is the source of unity and community in the universe. The Father draws all to the Word of God, the Word of God instructs all the faithful in what the Father offers and the Holy Spirit sanctifies the work of the Word made Flesh. The Word of God can’t create unity without first exposing the forces of disunity in the heart of man.
The forces of disunity are mankind’s own unredeemed compulsion, as well as the Evil One, who tempts man constantly to rebel against God’s word and instead do one’s own will. In a sense, the Word of God serves a purpose in the spiritual world similar to virus detection software in the world of computers. The Word of God, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, constantly challenges us to embrace God’s will and reject rebellion.
This is at work in the first reading. Moses has died, and Joshua is now the chosen leader of the Israelites. Certainly, Joshua knows that he has his hands full. He will always be compared to Moses, but cleverly avoids that trap by having the Israelites not focus on him but on the Lord’s commands.
He makes it clear that he isn’t their leader, God is. They have a clear choice. “If it does not please you to serve the Lord, decide today whom you will serve, the gods your fathers served beyond the river or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are now dwelling. As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” This is a foretaste of the Gospel.
This is a rallying cry to come together and serve the one true God and find the unity and the community that the Lord offers. It isn’t a rallying cry to follow Joshua, but the Lord whom Joshua is serving. In God alone, we can discover unity and community on this earth.
Paul addresses the same issue on the family level. Christ is the source of unity in the family. He really encourages husbands and wives and children to conform themselves to Christ’s teaching. For example, the husband is to lead the way. Just as Christ humbled Himself by dying on the cross for our sake, husbands should be the first to nail their ego to the cross, and then wives and children should follow his leadership. Hence, the father in the family is shown to have the first responsibility to help create family unity by allowing Christ to crucify his flesh.
In allowing the Word of God to transform us, we can better understand the responsorial psalm: “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.” Remember the touching scene at the Last Supper, when Jesus had finished washing the feet of His apostles, He then said, “As I have done, so also you must do to one another.… Happy will you be when you do these things.”
Embracing the Word of God, especially when it’s challenging and difficult, brings great joy to the heart because it is an intimation of the joy and unity we will someday experience in the midst of the Holy Trinity.
In the Gospel, it is obvious that Jesus isn’t following the book “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” He presented His followers with some very challenging information about giving His disciples His Body to eat and His Blood to drink. Some responded to Him, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?”
Jesus challenges them to have faith in a different kind of life, a life with Him in fellowship with the Father and the Holy Spirit. When they murmured against Him, He said, “Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail.”
He says, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.” As a result of this, many stopped following Jesus and returned to their former way of life.
When Jesus asked the twelve, “’Do you also want to leave?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Master, 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.’”
It’s almost as if Peter says, “Master we have given it a lot of thought, but we have not found this kind of meaning and purpose in fishing. I like what I am hearing, and I plan to stick around to hear more.”
At this point it would be helpful for each of us to allow the Holy Spirit to apply the teaching of Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist to our individual lives.
Do I really believe that when receiving Christ in Holy Communion I am really eating the Flesh and drinking the Blood of Christ? Do I really believe that the Holy Eucharist takes away my venial sins? When I receive Him in Holy Communion, do I really feel relieved, loved and forgiven, or do I feel condemned because I have not made myself more worthy of receiving Him? Do I really enjoy receiving Him as much as He enjoys coming to me as a sinner?
Getting to heaven is not really my idea or your idea, but it is the Father drawing us closer to Jesus so that Jesus can save us. It makes Jesus’ work so much easier if only we admit we are sinners and need all the help we can get. That is our hunger for love, meeting the Source of Love.