Saturday, August 25, 2012

Sunday 21B: "As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord".

I am delighted to be able to tell you that we will soon begin a new year of school! The school about which I am talking is our school of religious education, our weekly classes for educating our children in the Faith. Soon our young people will meet each week to deepen their Faith, to grow in love of God and one another, to think about the vocation to which they are called, and to anticipate their eternal salvation in Christ.

Registration for the classes is being held this evening until 7 pm at the hall and again tomorrow after 9 am Mass and until 11 am. All of our families are invited to take advantage of the assistance our teachers provide them for educating our young people in the knowledge of the truths of Faith and also the guidance and example necessary for living the Faith in all of our actions and decisions.

Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia has described for us the gift that Catholics give to society and the honor and love we render to God when we act on our Faith in the public square:

“Our problems can only be solved by people of character who actively and without apology take their beliefs into public debates. That includes Catholics. We need to be stronger in our public witness, not weaker. If we really believe that the Gospel is true, we need to embody it in our private lives and our public choices.”

Our love for God and the way it should influence who we are and what we do is described well by Joshua in the Scriptures today: “As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."

"This saying is hard; who can accept it?"

People do not like to be told what to do. That is just a fact of human existence; it is a result of how we are made. We are made with free will and because of our weakness remaining after baptism we are not automatically attracted to what is good and true and beautiful. This is the reason why the Ten Commandments may be the least popular part of Christianity. It is probably also the reason why they are commandments and not suggestions.

There are many people that are sure they love Jesus Christ, but just as many that are not sure they want to follow the Commandments: they do not want to be told how to love Jesus Christ and others. The Commandments are a “hard saying” and there are many who do not “accept” them. This is one of the reasons why there are so many Christian ecclesial bodies in addition to the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church which Jesus founded. Everybody wants religion to be like the Burger King ads some of you may remember from many years ago: “Have it your way.” Christianity however is not about “my will be done". No, it is rather, “Thy will be done”. And “Thy” in this case is not me, but God.

The Ten Commandments spell out God’s will for me and for you. When we keep the ten rules for living then we love God and worship Him, we acknowledge His existence as we should for anyone we claim to love. When we fail to keep the Commandments we render God non-existent, a figment of the imagination or a long-lost relative that we do not truly love in the most sincere way because we do not seek him out for a visit.

Our witness as Catholic Christians is both simple and at the same time profound, able to change the hearts and minds of others: Ask for time off on Sundays to go to Mass if you have to work. Pray in public with your children using the sign of the Cross. Go to Mass on Sunday also while traveling or visiting family or friends who are not Catholics. And attend Mass together, as a family. Only when we re-consecrate the Lord's Day by Sunday worship, Sunday rest and family togetherness will be begin to restore family life.

Does the Faith appear to be "for pretend" when we may or may not go to Mass, we may or may not pray, we may or may not act on our beliefs in the public square? Is it reasonable for our children to remain in the Faith if they have learned from watching our example that it is make-believe, a plaything fit only for children?

It is surely not. So let our response be like that of the people before Joshua’s witness: "Far be it from us to forsake the LORD for the service of other gods…Therefore we also will serve the LORD, for he is our God." Said another way in the Gospel:

"Master, to whom shall we go?
You have the words of eternal life.
We have come to believe
and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God."

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