Fr. Michael’s Homily for Sunday, August 26, 2018

CHOOSE YOU THIS DAY WHOM YOU WILL SERVE

A HOMILY DELIVERED ON THE 21ST SUNDAY OF YEAR II

As we tread in this life journey, we often need accompaniment especially when going to an unknown destination. In making a choice of a companion you will have to choose someone who knows the road. Naturally, the one who is familiar with the road takes the lead and as he leads the way, trust becomes very necessary. The led must or should have a certain level of trust on the leader. If we lose confidence in the leader there will naturally be confusion which will, in most cases, not lead to success. When the leader is absolute (divine), we are expected to repose absolute trust in him but if the leader is finite (human) we should still trust him but with one eye open. This is because as a finite being there is limit to what he can do and limit to what he is capable of knowing.

In our spiritual journey the story should not be different. In our spiritual journey we need a leader or leaders, sometimes the leader could be absolute (God Himself), or God’s representative and some other times it could be somebody that we are looking up to. The trust we repose on our spiritual leader will depend on what we take him to be. If our spiritual leader is finite, having limited knowledge, limited power and is not and cannot be everywhere, we should still trust him, sometimes greatly, but with one eye open. But if on the other hand, our leader is infinite, all knowing, all powerful, ever present and all loving, (God) our trust should be absolute, total and unreserved.

So to be able to make a choice of whom to serve as today’s theme suggest, we will need to answer this fundamental question individually, ‘WHO IS GOD TO YOU?’ A sincere response to this fundamental question will be of tremendous help to our choice making and consequently, a determining factor, of the type of trust you could repose on Him. If God is all knowing, ever present, all powerful and all loving, then you will be thinking of trusting Him absolutely without reservation or questioning when He gives a command, even when such command sounds unreasonable. But if He is not, definitely, your trust for him should not be absolute you should trust with your one eye open so as to help Him when He want to go wrong or breach your agreements. You can be ready to suggest to him a better way when he is confused.

The Israelites gave finite trust to infinite being. They did not repose absolute trust in God their savior and that singular act attracted to them some punishments from God who was not happy with them because of their infidelity. They began to lose their trust in God their savior the very moment God began the process of saving them. When eventually God led them out of Egypt and Pharaoh with his army began to pursue them, seeing the red sea in front and their enemies behind, the Israelites immediately forgot all the prodigies God performed in Egypt in order to save them. They complained to Moses: is it that there is no grave in Egypt that you have brought us here to die in this deserted place.  They complained of lack of food, when food was given they complained of lack of water, and when water was given they complained of lack of cucumber, onions etc. Through their complaint, they led Moses into sin against God who had been his friend.

This series of rebellious attitudes on the part of the Israelites which Joshua himself witnessed, made him to asked them to make a choice of whom to serve. They were free to make a choice either follow the god of the gentiles or to follow the God of their fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Joshua made the consequences of any of the choices they would like to make known to them. If they were to opt to serve the true God, they should be prepared to swerve neither right nor left in carrying out His injunctions, if they did they would risk His dreadful wrath. On the hand, if they would choose the gods of the gentiles, they should not expect help from God when they are in trouble or besieged by the enemies.

Christ in the gospel of St. Matthew warns us not to pretend to serve two masters at a time. He said no man can serve both God and mammon at the same time. So this option is a necessary one that every human person must make, consciously or unconsciously. Whatever you hold so dear to you that you are prepared to defend to the point of shedding your blood; that is your God. Whatever you take delight in talking about and which you can sacrifice your time, your money, your ability etc. without considering the cost, and which you would not want anything to come between and that thing; that is your God. So choose you this day whom you will serve.

When Joshua made such demand on the Israelites, they all said in unison, we have no intention to desert the Lord, the God of our ancestors. We will serve Him and Him alone shall we worship. The story is different in today’s gospel where Christ’s disciples deserted Him and stopped going with Him because they felt that His teaching was a difficult and unreasonable one. Probably because they did not have full confidence and trust in Him as one who is divine, all knowing, all powerful, ever present and all loving. If they knew that Jesus was divine and hence capable of knowing what they cannot and will never know, that He loved them and that He was incapable either of making mistake or leading them astray they would have trusted Him even when they don’t understand His teaching.

To follow Jesus requires trust and confidence. It requires commitment and total resignation. We must keep following Him, confident that He will never mislead us, even when we cannot understand why, and there is no rational justification for such belief. Complaint betrays lack of trust and nothing hurts Jesus like lack of trust.

As we see in the gospel, although the rest of Christ’s disciples stopped following Him, the apostle did not go away with them; not because they comprehended His message but because they trusted that He cannot mislead them. This kind of trust is truly a sign of predestination. This is faith at work which every Christian should endeavor to possess. It all depends on who Jesus is to you.

Since holiness is holistic, it follows that unless we learn to trust and follow God’s directives, wives will neither learn to be submissive to their husbands as St. Paul exhorts nor will husbands love their wives as Christ loves the church. On the other hand, those who can trust their husbands and be submissive to them will not find it difficult trusting and being submissive to God their creator even when they fail to understand what He is doing in their lives.