There are moments in life we must make crucial decisions and choices which may shape the rest of our lives. Moments of this nature become our crossroads. It may be decisions on career or vocation; it may be about choice of life partner in marriage or other values of life with future consequences. Sometimes, these decisions may appear easy and at other times, very hard. What has been the most difficult decision you have made in life? Are your decisions in conformity with the teachings of Joshua to the Israelites and of Christ to his disciples as we have in the readings of today? Do you take responsibility for decisions in life? The first reading presents to us Joshua’s profession of faith before the leaders of the people of Israel at Shechem. Joshua presents to them two projects: first was the project of domination and oppression. These people were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt but God brought them out with a mighty hand.
The Lord showed signs and wonders before their eyes against Egypt, Pharaoh, and his entire household (Gen 6:21). Joshua made them understand that God is greater than all their idols that they considered as alternatives. The second was the project of God’s liberty for his people. After recounting the history of their salvation, he gave an exhortation to serve God and placed them on crossroads: the freedom to choose the right path. He said to them, “If you be unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve.” It was a case of freewill and choice in making a decision with alternatives before them. Sometimes we feel serving God is a bad choice or we try to compare our lives with other persons who are serving other gods (idols). If serving God seems hard, will you try the devil? Disaster! He continued with a contrasting word, “‘but’ as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
He understood that as the priest and head of his family, he was charged with the responsibility of making the whole house serve the true God. If this is the case, how many fathers take up this responsibility as head of the house to lead or preside over family prayers? How often do we represent our families before God? What efforts do we make to transmit the teachings and doctrines of the Church to our children as Joshua did to the Israelites? Joshua led by example and the people followed suit. Can we be of good example to others that will make them decide to serve the Lord? The decision of Joshua and his family to serve God is closely related to the decision of the disciples in the Gospel, whom after hearing the hard teachings of Christ on the catechesis of his body, had the choice to either remain with him or seek other alternatives. As Joshua presents his project to the Israelites in making their decision to serve God, Christ did similar to his disciples. He previously presented his project when he said, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up on the last day”
(John 6:54). Many of the followers said, “This is hard saying; who can listen to it?” While Christ was speaking in the Spirit, they were reasoning in the flesh and so it was too hard for them to accept, but not hard to understand. In view of this Christ said, “The words that I have spoken to you are Spirit and life.” He had earlier said, “What is born of the flesh is flesh, what is born of the Spirit is Spirit” (John 3:6). We recall the visit of the Angel Gabriel to Mary at annunciation when She asked, “How can this be since I am a virgin?” The Angel said, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the most High will overshadow you…” (Luke 1:35). So at this point of the Gospel, Christ was affirming his Divinity but they could not understand and they began to leave. He turned to his disciples and asked, “Will you also go away?” Decisively, Simon Peter answered in the name of the twelve, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the message of eternal life…”
Put differently, which gods shall will run to? Which other place can we go to when we have the Eucharist that gives us life? If you are not choosing life, obviously you are choosing death. As for me and my family, we will choose life. Finally, St. Paul in the second reading draws our attention to family life. Before admonishing wives he said, “Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Invariably, family life is marked by mutual submission. When we are filled with the Spirit, this submission will be done in the fear of God, not the fear of man. The submission does not mean there is no head in the family. Certainly, there is a head in the family as we see in the house of Joshua. The man remains the husband and the head of the family as Christ is the head of the Church. Submitting to one another implies the idea of a “team player.” This cannot be achieved if there is no love, that is why St. Paul said, “husbands, love your wives, as Christ loves the Church…” In conclusion, I came across a random video clip in which the preacher said, “When you find people who love you for who you are, pay the price and keep them, swallow your pride and keep them. Not everybody has that time to love you for who you are.” Love is sacrifice. If we cannot sacrifice, we cannot love neither our husbands, nor our wives or children. In any of our decisions in life, let love be involved. If love is involved, God is involved. Happy Sunday!
• Rev. Fr. Kenneth Dogbo, OSJ is an Oblate of St. Joseph based in Abeokuta.