Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - Decisions
Today's reading tell us of three instances in which people needed to make important decisions; in the first instance, the children of Israel decided that Yahweh would be their God. In the second reading, Paul touches on the decision married couples are constantly called on to make - to really love each other as Christ loves his Church, or to live together in some kind of peaceful coexistence. Finally there is the choice the followers of Jesus made when others turned away.

Joshua 24:1-2,15-18. This passage relates to a very ancient Israelite tradition and probably relates to an agreement entered into by the Israelites and the inhabitants of Shechem whom the Israelites had invaded and conquered.

Ephesians 5:21-32 Here St. Paul describes, brilliantly, what Christianity ought to be in human life. He uses the love of God, as revealed in Jesus, as an example of how to transform the way humans relate to each other.

St. John 6:60-69 For many, the cross roads had been reached; this last assertion by Christ that "he was the bread of life" and that they "must eat his flesh and drink his blood" was the last straw. The decision to stay with Him rested heavily on the Apostles; and Peter spoke for all.

Point 1: In the musical "Oliver", at a given point the old villain, Fagan, takes time out, as he says, to "review the situation". The time had come for hard decisions to be made. Choosing between this or that option is not always easy, and there are times when we think it would be easier not to have to choose. But choice is the necessary price of freedom. The German philosopher, Hegel, in his "Philosophy of History" wrote -'the history of the world is none other than the progress of the consciousness of freedom'. The author of the American Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, summed it up when he wrote -'The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time'. The battle cry of every revolution has always included "Freedom". And the more freedom that exists in a society, the greater the range of decisions its citizens have to make. That is why we are confronted with a greater range of options than our grandparents and the generations before them, ever had to face - where to go to school, what career to pursue, when and whom to marry, or whether to marry, where to live and so on. But, always accompanying this wider range of options is the burden of greater responsibility.

Point 2: In each of the cases dealt with in our readings today, the issues are clear. In each case there is complete freedom to go one way or another. The Israelites are made well aware of the consequences of the choice they have to make - Yahweh , the God of their Fathers, or the gods of the Amorites. The passage from St. Paul's epistle is frequently misunderstood and is sometimes quoted as an argument against women's liberation. By comparing the marriage relationship with the relationship that exists between Christ and His Church, between God and His people, Paul completely transforms the notion of marriage. From being a situation in which couples 'get along by going along' the relationship becomes endowed with a new spirit of trust and generosity enabling them to meet whatever challenges they may encounter. And for the followers of Jesus outside of Capernaum, the options, too, were clear and open.

Conclusion: The challenge for them is the same challenge confronting us - Take Jesus at His word, or walk away. Peter's response still rings in our ears! And this, even before the Last Supper, or Calvary or the Resurrection.

Scriptural reference: "Then Jesus said to the Twelve, "What about you, do you want to go away too?" Simon Peter answered, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the message of eternal life and we believe. We know that You are the Holy One of God". (John 6:68-69)