A Clear Decision to Serve the Lord

08-26-2018Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

In our first reading from the Old Testament, Joshua has made a choice, a clear decision, to serve the Lord and now invites the people to do the same. They also affirm their fidelity. This stopping at Shechem marks a definitive end to the desert journey and start of a very new beginning. They now cross and enter into the Promised Land with a new life before them. The second reading addresses a life immediately after it has begun. The marital imagery helps us to understand that life is lived in loving relationships.

Our Gospel also addresses the moment of truth and choice. The Twelve pause at this time and consider what they must do. Interestingly Jesus tells these fearful decent men that the decision they make is not the result of their own courage, but rather a manifestation of their faith in God. It is clear to us, but not to them, that they will not arrive at the truth of the life, words and work of Jesus except by the action of the Father.

Recall at the start of this famous discourse, which takes the whole of the sixth chapter of John, thousands of people pursued Jesus and now only a few remain. Jesus asks the Twelve poignantly and pointedly, “Do you also want to leave?” In many ways, we almost do not want Jesus to be this vulnerable, but he is. The response of the Twelve echoes the first reading, “Master, to whom shall we go? [We] … are convinced that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:67-68).

“We are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.” - Will you attempt to try and say and also mean this response? Are you able to say this with feeling and meaning in your heart? This choice of the Twelve is also ours to make not only a first time, but again, and again, as one choice opens to another, as one day follows another. Bear in mind that as followers of Jesus Christ, our life is no less valuable, our response no less valued than that of the Twelve. Jesus is no less driven to ask us and to know our response. As persons baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our response is never too small or unimportant. We are invited to see to it that the daily choices we make originate in the Spirit and draw their strength from there. On each new morning, we are invited by our God to make a choice again to walk alongside with the Master.

Father Brian