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Spirituality of the Readings
17th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Year B
July 25, 2021
John Foley, SJ

The Call

­If today has been “one of those days” for any of us, meaning stressful and tiring, maybe we could let the readings for Sunday bring us home for a while. We could look especially at the Second Reading, taken from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.

•  It calls us to “live with humility.”

We are to allow the gift of real life in all its forms, not push it away simply because there is too much else to do.

Humility call us to accept all that we are and all we are not. We do not have to be perfect in order to be beloved. Lives that have to be huge and greatly respected and listened to and in control are based on fear, not humility. Gradually we could try to accept the love God has for us, the love that makes us safe.

•  It calls us to “live with gentleness.”

This can be a little more difficult. Commercials say that women have to be beautiful at all times or be rejected. They must take care of others, be happy with their detergent, be as strong as men seem, keep up the social calendar, and have a full time job as well. These are some of the pressures advertising puts on women. But relax. God is the gentlest receiver of all, milder than any product, milder than the air we breathe. Relax. We are enough. We are loved by God, who is infinitely gentle.

And culture tells males that gentleness is just for women and children. Men have to be tough, all tough, and only tough. This is false. Both men’s and women’s bodies and minds have the capacity to be strong, but peace comes from balancing toughness with tenderness toward our mates, our families, our religious brothers and sisters, our elders, our friends.

•  It calls us to “live with patience.”

Patience is often defined as “bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint.” This is a good enough definition, but did you know that the Latin origin of the word patience (patior) means “to allow”? We are to allow the gift of real life in all its forms, not push it away simply because there is too much else to do. God gives us ourselves one minute at a time, one hour at a time, not sooner.

If we want “to have it all and have it now” we are going against our nature. Each moment, each flower, each step is precious if we let it be. We are to accept the gifts of the compassionate giver and let be.

•  It calls us “to bear with one another through love.”

Think how wonderful it would be if someone were to bear with you, even when you mess up. You would not have to be anything but your own adequate self, loved by God, able to bear up under the surprisingly light burden of loving others.

•  Finally, it calls us “to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.”

One Lord,
one faith,
one Baptism,
one God and Father of all,
who is over all and through all and in all.

We are all to keep this Lord before our eyes. The God who gives lasting peace.

It is our hope and our call. It is the “barley loaf,” the “one bread” we will receive in our own hands on Sunday (First Reading and Gospel).

One bread, one body, one Lord of all.

John Foley, SJ

Father Foley can be reached at:
Fr. John Foley, SJ

Fr. John Foley, SJ, is a composer and scholar at Saint Louis University.

Art by Martin Erspamer, OSB
from Religious Clip Art for the Liturgical Year (A, B, and C). This art may be reproduced only by parishes who purchase the collection in book or CD-ROM form. For more information go