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  Word To Life

Sunday Scripture Readings, Aug. 26, 2012

By Jean Denton
Catholic News Service

August 26, Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Cycle B. Readings:

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

Psalm 34:2-3, 16-21

2) Ephesians 5:21-32

Gospel: John 6:60-69

Despite every earthly kind of obstacle, some people don't need to be convinced that God is the ultimate "go-to guy." My friend Suzanne is one of those people.

Having emigrated from Haiti five years ago, she applied for American citizenship last month. When she received the date for her citizenship test, it was sooner than expected, so I helped her cram.

On exam day, I went along for moral support. We left before dawn to drive nearly four hours to the regional U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office. Suzanne was nervous but we reviewed potential history and government questions the whole way.

In the testing center waiting room, I feigned calmness but was just as anxious as Suzanne. As her name was called and she followed the examiner down the hall, I began praying. But when she returned, she shook her head and told me simply, "No good."

We walked back to the car in the silence of disappointment. We retrieved a picnic lunch she had prepared for us and found a park nearby where we sat on a bench to eat. Then Suzanne said grace aloud -- with the same fervor I'd always witnessed in her dialogues with God, giving thanks for the food, our families, for life and for his constant strength and care.

Sure she'd had a minor setback, but what was she going to say? She was praying to the powerful, loving God who had seen her through many serious trials before. It reminded me of the true-believing Israelites in this week's first reading.

They saw the odds stacked high against them as they struggled for the survival of their nation. Nevertheless, when Joshua asked if they would continue to serve God, they recalled how God had protected and provided for them in the past, and they proclaimed their faith in him.

Likewise, Suzanne has experienced God repeatedly carrying her through hardship to a new life with much happiness. She held to the attitude of Jesus' 12 closest followers who explained in the Gospel, "To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."

As we chatted over plantains and stewed goat and planned our study strategy for her retesting, Suzanne smiled and challenged me to share her trust. "God will help me," she stated with certainty, "and you."


When have you been tempted, recently, to lose faith in God? What personal experiences of God's grace and protection remind you to trust in him?


"We also will serve the Lord, for he is our God." -- Joshua 24:18


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