21st Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

Life is about decisions. Just think about getting to this point today. You’ve made numerous decisions already this morning. Sure, many of these decisions aren’t that complicated, many of these decisions, don’t require really that much sacrifice at all. But there are times in our lives where we have to make very big decisions; decision that will alter the rest of our lives. For example, do I marry this person, what job do I take, we could go on and on. We live in a world today that doesn’t like to make decisions. There are studies that show that younger people are delaying marriage for this reason, there are studies that show people don’t seem to spend time in the same jobs for this reason. I don’t think I know any undergraduate who didn’t change their major at some point.

We have this fear of missing out. We have to experience everything. So we know that if we make a commitment; if we say yes to certain decisions in our life, we are necessarily saying no to other things. For example, the yes to marry a spouse, means a no to other exclusive relationships, choosing to go to this college, means I am not going to go to that college, taking this job means I won’t do something else. Life is full of decisions of us saying yes to allot of things but also saying no to other things as well.

Today’s readings give us the opportunity to make the most important decision that you and I have to make. In the first reading, Joshua asks the Israelites who are you going to follow. Are you going to follow the God who led your ancestors out of slavery in Egypt or are you going to follow this local God, because you cannot follow them both? Fast-forward to the Gospel, where Jesus asks His apostles, and by extension us, a very clear question. Are you with me or not? There is no middle ground. FAITH REQUIRES COMMITMENT.

We can’t say yes, I believe in God in this area of my life, but in this area, I’ll live as though He doesn’t exist. It’s one of the big problems in our Church today. It’s been coined the phrase cafeteria Catholicism. It is like you are going through the cafeteria line and see something you like so you take it, but leave behind other teachings that are inconvenient or too hard.

My friends are you with Jesus or not. Jesus tells us in the scriptures that He is the Son of God. Either He is the greatest gift we have ever been given or He is the greatest fraud that has ever been perpetrated in the history of the world. And if He is God as He claims to be, the definition of stupidity is to do something against what He tells us to do. Are we with Him or not? Will we leave Him or will we stay?

You see my friends; life is about decision and life is about sacrifice. It is not a question of if we are going to have to sacrifice in this life, it is a question about what we are going to sacrifice for. When you find yourself having to make decisions, what is that guiding principle that helps you make a decision? Hopefully you don’t just roll the dice. Hopefully on big decisions you don’t just go on a whim. Hopefully there is some kind of principal behind your decision and I dare say today’ first reading gives us that principle. Did you hear it? “As for me and my house, we will serve the lord.” If that is the founding principle we are off to a great start.

“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” is a choice that says I want to follow Him and that means if I have to say no to other things that is fine, because I am following God. So what about you? When you are faced with the question of today’s first reading are you going to choose God or one of the other gods the world holds out for us. Or when you hear the question in today’s gospel, are you with me or not, how do you answer? It is easy to say with our words “yes Lord I’ll follow you,” but look a little further, look at the way that you live your life. Do the choices and actions I make in my life reflect the fact that I want to serve the Lord? Do the choices and actions I make in my life reflect my verbal statement of “Lord I want to be with you because you have the words of everlasting life?”

People sometimes come to me and say how hard the Christian life is and how they don’t see the fulfilment it promises but when you look closely at their life it becomes apparent that they are living some of the Christian life, but they leave others of it behind. It is like going to the doctor who tells you to lose 15 pounds and gives you a pill to keep your diabetes under control. So you take the pill but you don’t go on the diet. You don’t get to go back to your doctor and say you are a terrible doctor and it doesn’t work. No, he told you what to do and you decided not to.

Friends, today’s readings leave us with a very simple question, who do we serve. It leaves us with the question are we really willing to follow Jesus or are we going to put something ahead of him? So, let me ask the question, who are you? Are you like those who walked away when being a disciple got hard or are you like the apostles, who even amidst their weakness, sinfulness, and imperfections, were willing to stick with Jesus because as they claim, they were convinced that He is the Son of God?

Life is all about choices. Even not choosing is a choice in and of itself. At the end of the day when it comes to our faith, how will you choose to live your life?

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