21st Sunday in Ordinary Time Reflection
Do You Serve The Lord Your God?
Based on the readings from: Joshua 24:1-2,15-18, Psalm 33:2-3,16-23, Ephesians 5:21-32, John 6:60-69
By Rev. Bob Johnnene OFD, Mission Sts. Sergius & Bacchus
Franciscans of Divine Mercy/ Reformed Catholic Church International
"Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness…. Choose this day whom you will serve… as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." (Joshua 24:14-15)
Just as Joshua challenged the tribes of Israel to chose who they desired to honor and worship, we today are being given the same challenge. Do we choose to serve those human gods of Greed, power, domination, discrimination, materialism and self-effacement or do we choose to follow the way of the son of god, Jesus Christ.
Do we choose to live our lives according to the way Jesus taught by being forgiving, compassionate, kind and generous to all God’s children, especially those in need?
Throughout all of history, one idea has prevailed; it is that there is a supreme being that governs all.
We find it in the histories of the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Aztecs, Mayans, Native American Tribes, in fact every known civilization. Humans have recognized that there is something greater than themselves throughout history.
We humans have sought this greater power out, as history has shown, in every generation. They have given that acknowledgement to the sun, volcano’s, lightning and other natural and sometimes human and imaginary things. They have worship their “Gods” under the names of Ra, Zeus, Apollo, Pele the Goddess of Fire, Mercury, Aesir, and hundreds of other names.
When Almighty God made himself known with the words “"I am that I am. Here is what you must say to the Israelites. Tell them, 'I am has sent me to you.' "(Exodus 3:14) we were told who we should give honor, praise and reverence to and whom we should thank for all things.
When Jesus Christ was transfigured, God informed us clearly who Jesus was with these words; “"This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!" (Matthew 17:4-6).
God has told us to listen to what Jesus was telling us. To listen to the words and teachings of Jesus Christ, not some mere human individual, but Jesus the son of Almighty God. When we read the teachings of Christ, we find clear concise guidelines as to how we are expected to live our lives. These are found in the Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount, and in the “GREAT COMMANDMENT”, "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:29-30)
Could Christ’s teachings be any clearer, yet so many try to make this love and service to Almighty God so difficult by injecting a lot of man made things in the way.
The have twisted to original writings of the ancient scriptures and the writings of the apostles and early church fathers and in some cases even rejected some of them because they did not “FIT THE POLITICALY CORRECT AGENDA” of that time.
People found passages that referred to a specific kind of sin and twisted it around in order to exclude some individuals from serving God or even to participate in the worship of Almighty God.
When we choose to ignore the teachings of Christ, when we decide what God means and we judge others as outcasts and deny them the opportunity to worship Almighty God and acknowledge Jesus as the son of God and the redeemer and Savior sent by God, then we are not serving Almighty God.
Jesus, rejected no one, not even those who were to crucify him. Jesus sat and ate with those that Jewish law forbade sharing a meal. Jesus spoke with and treated women as equals.
If we believe that Almighty God created all things, and we believe that Jesus was the Son of God made man, then we cannot even think about acting like a god and making judgments that are the exclusive property of Almighty God.
We can dislike the way another person acts, we can reject their choices as not acceptable, we have the freedom to choose not to associate with some people because they seem to be breaking the commandments of God by lying, cheating, stealing, killing, committing adultery, coveting another’s wife or property and act in an manner other than that prescribed by God.
When we decide that power, money, prestige, fame, greed or sexual gratification are more important to us that living according to God’s way, we are not serving God.
We need to remember how we were taught in Paul’s letter to the Romans 14; “But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God.” and Matthew 7; “Do not judge lest you be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.“ In James 4 we read; “Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother, or judges his brother, speaks against the law, and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law, but a judge of it.”
The law of God is very clear, we are not the ones to judge a person because of how things appear “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment. Our Law does not judge a man, unless it first hears from him and knows what he is doing, does it?” ( John 7:24, 51)
We need to judge a person by their deeds. Do they feed the poor? Do they Clothe the Naked? Do they respect and love All of God’s creatures? Do they give shelter to the homeless?
We do not have a right to deny anyone the same rights and privileges as every other citizen.
The question poised at the beginning of this reflection was, Do you serve the Lord ? You do if you live in a manner prescribed by Jesus Christ and do not make judgments according to man made decisions but only by the example and teachings given us by Christ.
“Christ went on, “This is why I told you that no one could come to me unless the Father allows him…Simon Peter answered, ‘Lord, who shall we go to? You have the message of eternal life, and we believe; we know that you are the Holy One of God.“
Let us serve Almighty God not only by claiming to be a Christian but by living out the teachings of Christ in our daily lives. AMEN