YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE 21ST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: CHOOSE THE GOD YOU WILL SERVE; DO YOU TAKE OFFENCE AT YOUR GOD?
BY: Rev. Fr. Callistus Emenyonu, cmf
Joshua 24: 1-2, 15-18, Ps. 34,
Ephesians 5: 21-32, John 5: 21-32
Every human being is religious and must have a higher being to pay allegiance to and render his worship. Before doing that one must have considered other gods available. And to make a true, correct and valid choice, you must have good and informed reasons to do so. Some of the reasons of making a choice of a particular god are his ability to protect your life and family and all that you do. It is the god’s ability to give you life and safeguard it with those of your family and grant you power over your enemies that would make you to choose it. You should feel its tenderness and care filled with love beyond compare. To be considered is also the track record which that god has on your ancestors and past history of his faithful and loving deeds that is expected and longed to repeat in your own life even now and later.
These would lead you to a life of faithful, hopeful and trustful disposition to that god. Following the historical antecedents of the life of Israel and their convinced covenantal relationship with the God of the Old, the people of Israel has strong reasons to the worship of the God of their ancestors: God of Abraham, Moses, Abel, Jacob and Isaac (in their Yahwistic belief). For Joshua has been a beneficiary of this trustful God and was made his priest after Moses to continue the exodus event with this same God that has never disappointed them but always faithful; he found reason to challenge the Israeli nation to make truthful faithful declaration of the choice of god to worship as we saw in the first reading.
Beloved, Joshua discovered an unsure and uncertain attitude of faithfulness in the life of the people of Israel. He noticed a wavering and dangling behaviour; a sort of bestriding the threshold of faith in the people of his time. Being a convinced leader, he summoned the people to make solemn declaration of faith at Shechem (This is a Canaanite Israeli city of the tribe of Manasseh and it is the first capital of the Kingdom of Israel. Joshua saw this act as being of utmost importance as to gather them at the capital city making it a groundbreaking event on a national importance. We remember that the Joseph father of the exiled Israel was buried there. The bones and spirit of Jacob was to be their witness and judge at that event. As leaders we must take responsibility especially of events that are of paramount importance and as quick as it is necessary; we must never waver or allow intimidation to discourage us doing the needful.
As a leader he took the first stroke and made his declaration first after speaking to the conscience of the people. Leaders must be true catalysts and live of the conscience of the people and do that by good example following the Joshua. Beloved, as human beings we live each day to make choices in order to live meaningfully and truly and to realize our upmost objectives. And to get the best of it, we must allow wisdom and the spirit of God to play their part. Joshua. He allowed his heart to lead him into conviction for the choice of God to worship. He told the people: If you be unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served… or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. He then declared: But for as me and my house, we will serve the Lord. The people Israel at that moment declare like him to serve the same God of Joshua. Later, Joshua was faithful with his but the people of Israel were not. Often times we make declarations and promises, oath and vows with truthful heart but when challenged by situations we waver and begin a double standard life. At times, we live a syncretise our faith and worship. We commit sacrilege and desecration by maintain two opposing forces (gods). This is a cause of grief to God who in the commandment said he is a jealous God and does not like to share his glory with another god.
Beloved, we must listen to the admonition of St Paul and learn to subject ourselves to Christ and his Church. We must love Christ who loves us as he does the Church and pay allegiance and loyalty only to him. Christ would cleanse us with his word when we obey it. We must like the gospel advised today to take the teachings of Christ in his Church even when it is a hard one seeming intolerable. We must not like those without faith desert him and abandon his word of life and directions in this world. This is what it means to make an option for Christ. Jesus asks you as he did to the Apostles: Will you also go away? Do you still keep to the God of your choice even when it looks unpalatable and hard? Can your faith speak like Peter: Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God. This is similar to the professed faith of Joshua: what is your own response to God in matters of faith and worship?
Lord, grant me the grace to be convinced in you in all circumstances and at all times and grant me the grace to bless him at all time with praise of him always on my lips so that in him my souls shall make its boast. Whenever events of life crush our spirits may the Lord save us and keep guard over us and our souls shall be ransomed at last, Amen.
Rev. Fr. Callistus Emenyonu, cmf