Monday, 27 August 2018

Homily: Trinity XIII B, August 26 - As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.

As for me and my house.  We will serve the Lord.    Joshua 24

The Twelve Apostles in today’s Gospel are asked to make a choice—either to believe and accept the New Covenant that Jesus offers in His Body and Blood, or to conform to the ways of the world: serving the gods of material wealth and power.

Their choice is prefigured by the decision Joshua asks the Twelve Tribes to make in today’s First Reading. Joshua gathers them at Shechem—where God first appeared to their father Abraham –  promising to make his descendants a great nation in a new land.  And he issues a blunt challenge—either renew their covenant with God or serve the alien gods of the surrounding nations. He proclaims in the famous phrase: As for me

The crisis over abuse in the Church faces us with a similar choice.  We too are being asked today to decide whom we will serve.  Is it expediency and denial or allowing the light of truth lead us towards the standards of care and Christian life that we were baptized into. 

For the past four weeks we have been presented in the liturgy with the mystery of the Eucharist—a daily miracle far greater than those performed by God in bringing the Israelites out of the land of Egypt.

God has promised us a new homeland and eternal life, offering us bread from heaven to strengthen us on our journey and to heal us, the Body of Christ – the Church. 

Jesus has told us that unless we, together, eat His Flesh and drink His Blood we will have no life in us. That is, we must truly participate in his Life – loving and serving the most vulnerable amongst us.

In the nineteenth century an English priest summarized his ministry this way:

"My own firm conviction, after more than fifty years' experience as a priest . . .  is, that we shall never gain the enthusiastic love of our people for their Mother Church, or secure their fidelity to her, until we bring them to realize that the Catholic Church is God's own creation for the promotion of [God’s] greater . . . glory and the salvation of souls – that the Holy Eucharist is Christ's own appointed act of worship and means of close communion with Him . . .  It is because our people have lost their grasp of these great truths that they are so easily alienated from the Church, and become a too ready prey to every new thing . . .  which the cunning craftiness of man may invent."
George Rundle Prynne - An Early Chapter in the History of the Catholic Revival by A. Clifton Kelway

Jesus warns that there are those amongst his followers who do not believe and so it is today. True belief entails proper behaviour. Our faith is measured by what we do as much as by what we say.  Those whose behaviour betrays Christ must be dealt with. They must be removed from positions of authority and allow the light of truth to shine in the Church.

It is a hard saying by Jesus, as many murmur in today’s Gospel. Yet Jesus has given us the words of eternal life and gives us his Body and Blood.  We must collectively affirm in both words and action that, as Peter says, Jesus is the Holy One of God, who handed himself over for us and who gives His flesh for the life of the world.

We are committed to one another in the Body of Christ and must do all we can to eradicate the abuse of young and vulnerable people by those who profess with their lips but do not conform their lives to serve the Body of Christ – the Church.

Today’s Epistle tell us that Jesus gave us his Body and Blood that we might be sanctified, made holy, through the water and word of Baptism by which we enter into the new covenant. Through the Eucharist, Jesus nourishes and cherishes us, making us His own flesh and blood, even as husband and wife become one flesh.

God feeds us and strengthens us to love and serve his divine will and to serve and protect those most vulnerable in the house of faith.

As for me and my house.  We will serve the Lord.    Joshua 24

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