Deacon Steven M. Johnson – St. James, Belvidere, IL
Homily for 3rd Week of Lent, Thursday, 3-11-21, Year B
READINGS: 1st Jer 7:23-28; Gospel Lk 11:14-23
Theme: Choose Wisely
God gives us free will to make choices, even to choose Him or not. He does not want to force us to love or obey Him, rather, He wants us to choose Him above all things because of His goodness to us.
“When a nation, made up of individuals breaks away from God, the nation becomes godless even though a few righteous and holy people are scattered here and there.” 1 This is the choice of a people who choose to follow their own path, their own desires, and their own distorted understanding of God’s will. Sound familiar?
We find in today’s society, a shift in understanding and interpretation of divine teaching and instruction. What was once wrong is now right and what was right is now wrong. God’s love for us and the meaning of that love has been distorted and turned around so that what was known as traditional values of right and wrong are now held in disdain and taught as narrow and bigoted.
Not long ago we understood God’s teaching regarding human conception as respect for life by loving each other as created in the image of God. In order for a person to be conceived it took the cooperation of a man and a woman in love with God’s grace to create life in cooperation with Him. That life at conception was regarded as sacred, infused with a soul and a gift from God. To terminate that life goes against the 5th commandment of God not to kill. It also goes against His command for us to love, nurture and support each other.
Yet, in today’s society we now have reversed that understanding and twisted the teachings of God to respect our self-pride by loving ourselves and the image we have created. Now we create life outside that covenant bond between a man and woman and force God’s hand in creation. That created life is no longer considered sacred or a gift but, in many cases, a burden, one that can be terminated at our own will. To terminate that life is now a woman’s right to choose instead of a commandment of God not to kill.
Today, when those who are faithful continue to follow the correct teachings of Christ and try to bring that message of correction to others they are roundly mocked and pushed aside as old school, bigots, and intolerant.
God’s words to Jeremiah resound true today when he said, “When you speak all these words to them, they will not listen to you either; when you call to them, they will not answer you. Faithfulness has disappeared; the word itself is banished from their speech.”
So it is with many of the secular teachings and interpretations of today’s society. Such things as the LGBTQ movement, expanding abortion rights, granting rights to adolescents to make gender choices for themselves without the parent’s consent, destruction of the nuclear family, and the requirement to believe that God’s love has ordained all of these choices as good and wholesome are examples of distorting God’s teachings.
As God has said, “I have sent you untiringly all my servants the prophets. Yet they have not obeyed me nor paid heed; they have stiffened their necks and done worse than their fathers.”
Jesus teaches in today’s Gospel that “there is no such thing as a neutral position in the kingdom of God.”1 You either are going to follow His teachings or you are not. It is up to us to follow the proper meaning and teachings of God by studying, meditating, and understanding his divine scriptures. In today’s world, we must make a choice as to whom to follow.
At the same time, we have to be careful not to be self-righteous or “lord it over” others whose scruples are not yet formed. The love of God includes love for all people, including those who believe in alternate truths as mentioned above. We should behave in a way that admonishes our wayward brothers and sisters with love yet show them that we can disagree with and still love and respect them, never abandoning them. But that Love God asks us to show does not compromise. It does not adjust itself to each situation, constantly shape shifting to meet the whims of a changing society. God’s love is rock solid, set in stone, and written in divine scripture for us to follow. The one, holy, catholic and apostolic church is our guide. We only need to look to her for answers to these tough situations.
So, choose wisely and remember, whoever is not with Christ, is against Christ, and whoever does not gather with Christ, scatters.