21ST SUNDAY HOMILY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR B
THEME: MAKING THE ULTIMATE CHOICE
BY: Rev Fr Gerald Muoka
HOMILY: R1 – Joshua 24:1-2, 15-17, 18;
R2 – Eph 5:21-32
GOSPEL – John 6:60-69
A group of Christians gathered for a secret prayer meeting in Russia, at the height of the persecution of all Christian churches. Suddenly the door was broken by the boot of a soldier. He entered the room and faced the people with a gun in his hand. They all feared the worst. He spoke. “If there’s anyone who doesn’t really believe in Jesus, then, get out now while you have a chance. Make a choice now, either to stand for Jesus and die or reject him and live.” There was a rush to the door. A small group remained; those who had committed themselves to Jesus, and who were never prepared to run from Him. The soldier closed the door after the others, and once again, he stood in front of those who remained, gun poised. Finally, a smile appeared on his face, as he turned to leave the room, and he whispered “Actually, I believe in Jesus, too, and you’re much better off without those others!”
Beloved in Christ, the ups and downs of life, sometimes present us with moments of choice-making between good and evil; right and wrong; light and darkness; morality and immorality; human opinion and Divine design as we see in the introit story. However, the major thrust of the readings of this Sunday’s liturgy is to reexamine the series of daily choices we make as Christians for God or against God, as we choose to live out or reject the truths of divine revelation, through the prophets and His Son Jesus in the New dispensation.
Joshua, in the first reading, challenges the chosen people, Israelites to decide whether they will serve the gods of their fathers, the gods of the Amorites in whose country they are presently dwelling, or the God of the Israelites Who has done so much for them.
In this second reading, St Paul, while writing to the Ephesians, gives the criteria for their daily moral choices in the family, parish community, and civil society. Thereby, spurring the Ephesian Church to use the mutual love that exists in a successful marital relationship as paradigms for fraternal coexistence in Christendom
Whereas, Jesus, in today’s Gospel, challenges his Jewish audience, and later His apostles, to make their choice: to accept Him as the true Bread from Heaven Who gives them His Body and Blood as their Heavenly Food or to join those who have lost their Faith in Jesus and left Him, expressing their confusion and doubts about His claims
*THE INEVITABILITY OF CHOICE*
The ability to choose or make choice has always been a part of God’s plan for mankind. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were given the opportunity to choose: “And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:9).
God himself placed both “the tree of life” and “the tree of knowledge of good and evil” in the garden. Adam and Eve would be blessed by their choice or cursed by their choice.
On another note, in Deut. 30:19, at the border of the Promised Land, Moses clearly sets a choice before the people, “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.
This presupposes that the uniqueness of man as the center of all creation lies in the freewill to choose and make choice. So, the choices you and I make are a gift of God. It reveals how much God has trusted man and the magnitude of authority vested on him.
Our life as humans is characterized by choice-making. The freedom or ability to make choice define our being. Even the failure to make a choice is a choice itself.
That is why the late former United Nation’s Secretary General, Kofi Annan, once said, “To live is to choose. But to choose well, you must know who you are and what you stand for, where you want to go and why you want to get there”.
Furthermore, one must make a choice before one’s life could change; and every choice we make, places a door in front of us that opens an unfolding pathway, via positiva or via negativa.
On the positive pole, when we make choices that are righteous, good, pure, and Godly, they unfold for us a path of life. This path brings to us God’s blessing, anointing, His will, and His purpose (Ihe onye turu chi ya ka ona azutara ya). Such was the kind of choice Joshua and his household made; the same kind of choice the apostles made in the Gospel reading..
On the negative pole, when we make choices that are wrong, ungodly, disobedient to God, or against the inner voice of the Holy Spirit will bring the death process. Those choices release the demonic emissaries—spirits of darkness to work his havoc. They bring pain, devastation, suffering, and hurtful, lasting consequences. The choice of rebellion cost the Israelites 40 years in the wilderness, instead of 40 days.
(1) *MAKE YOUR CHOICE TO FOLLOW JESUS TODAY*
Today’s readings exhort us to make an ultimate choice as individuals, families, communities and as a church. In making choice, there are two paths; life and death.
There are two masters; Christ and Satan. There are two forces; light and dark. All Christians must accept the challenge of following the way of Christ and making choices for Christ, fortified by the Bread He gives and relying on the power of His Holy Spirit. Moreover, don’t forget the devil has a powerful, alluring, enticing plan for your life. It looks good, flashy and enticing. But it leads to destruction. So, make a choice to Follow Jesus today.
(2) *WE MUST PRIORITIZE LEADING OUR FLOCK TO GOD*
Every leader must adopt Joshua’s pastoral strategy and leadership style of leading the flock to God. Joshua was a leader who enacted and promoted Godly standards and values. Unlike many political and religious leaders who promulgate and propagate ungodly and human laws that are contrary to our Christian belief and morality. Joshua was an exemplary leader who should be emulated. He insisted, “Joshua 24:15 As regards my family and me, we shall serve Yahweh.” Leaders who promote unnatural trends and amoral values to please the people should choose between God or the masses.
(3) *WE OUGHT TO FOSTER THE EUCHARISTIC SPIRITUALITY*
The Gospel reading propels us to make a preferential choice of the Holy Eucharist as the foundation and source of our spiritual life and growth. Many during the time of Jesus never believed in the Eucharistic spirituality as we see in the Gospel reading, but Jesus never relented in substantiation his real presence in the Eucharist: “This is my body – This is my blood (Mtt. 26:26, 28.” Every spiritual giant has a source of strength and vitality. Ours as ministers of the New Covenant, lies deep in the Blessed Eucharist. So, the Eucharistic spirituality should be promoted and fostered amongst all believers through constant reception of the Eucharist, belief in the real presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, reverence and adoration of of Jesus in the Eucharist.
(4) *IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO CHOOSE LIFE.*
If you feel you’re on the wrong path of life, because of a bad or wrong choice or indecision, which is a choice on its own, stop wherever you are and choose to make a right choice. Only repentance can get you onto the right path. The very word “repent” (metanoia), means “a change of mind, turning and going the other way.” So, have a change of mind today and God will get you going again on the right path.
Finally, a certain young man got himself trapped and being drowned at the middle of a deep blue sea. As he tumbled down into a deep gorge, he grabbed hold of a branch of a small tree. “Help” he shouted. “Is there anyone up there?” A deep majestic Voice of God from the sky echoed through the gorge. “I will help you, My son. But first you must have Faith in Me.” “All right, all right. I trust you.” answered the man. The Voice replied, “Let go of the branch.” There was a long pause and the man shouted again, “Never! I will definitely sink.” The deep Voice echoed again, “You have to choose between holding the branch and get damned and leaving the branch to hold me and get saved.
The faithless and indecisive fellow indifferently roared again, “Is there anyone else up there.” No other help came and be perished.
Beloved in Christ, for us to make a firm and holistic choice, we must be ever ready to let-go of certain negativities in our lives in order to advance to the next level.
HOLY FATHER, GRANT US A FIRM AND RESOLUTE WILL TO MAKE A CHOICE OF YOU OVER THE ALLUREMENTS OF THE EVIL ONE. AMEN!
FR GERALD MUOKA