Homily – 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)
Last week I spoke of the holy Father’s call for a new evangelization. At the heart of evangelization is the hearing of the good news and then accepting it into our lives. What we accept is the Lordship of Jesus Christ over every area of our lives. The Good news is that Jesus Christ became man, suffered and died for our sins to pay the price we couldn’t pay, and then rose from the dead. We share in the fruits of his sacrifice if we too are willing to die to ourselves and live for others. We are only able to die to ourselves with God’s grace and we receive that grace as we submit our will to his.
The Gospel is very clear about the choice we face. It says “No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon.” In other words you cannot serve both material wealth, possessions, the things of this world, and God. You will either hate one of them and love the other or be devoted to one and despise the other. These are not my words but the Word of God himself given to us by Jesus Christ. It is a stern warning to us, his disciples, that we are not to be deceived. He clearly sees that we are in danger of being deceived. The devil tries to deceive us into believing that we can have it all. Most often he tries to convince us that: God love us so much, it doesn’t matter what we do on this earth because we will go to heaven. So our faith doesn’t really have to affect the things we do. We can live our lives the way we want and in the end God will forgive everything. This is the lie. The gospel today points out a clear choice for us. We serve God or we pursue the world. If we try we try to do both then we will end up hating one, and often times that is hating God.
How does this happen? Our faith becomes a burden to us. We see that clearly in the first reading when the people can’t wait for the Sabbath to be over so they may get back to making money. It is no accident that our Holy Father, John Paul II, wrote a letter to the Church warning people that Sunday was no longer the day of the Lord and we needed to move back to setting aside one day for the praise and contemplation of God. For modern society the laws of God have become a burden. We can’t even stand to have the 10 commandments posted in public places and we use any excuse to get them out. They have stood for hundreds of years and we still have religious freedom in our country. They have never been a threat to religious freedom but we argue that if they are posted it is the state legislating a religion. It is a lie simply to get rid of them. Why? Because we want God’s law out of our site so we can pursue the world. Christ said it would happen. We despise God’s law in order to pursue our own ends. We do not want to respect the Sabbath, dedicating it to God’s praise, glory and contemplation because we want to earn money, and watch sports. It is so bad now that some people tell themselves they don’t have to go to Church every Sunday but can go camping or do something else instead. For them God’s law has become an obstacle to their desires and they simply put it aside telling themselves that it is okay, they love God and God forgives them.
Or how about the 5th commandment. You shall not kill. We are willing to kill babies so that our lives won’t be affected by the choices we made to break the 6th commandment against adultery. 1.2 million children a year are killed through abortion. The media screams about 1000 deaths in Iraq in two years by people who gave their lives in service of others but they say nothing of 1.2 million killed because people want to serve themselves. We have nearly 1000 abortions a year in South Dakota alone. Why are the small towns dying? 32 years of abortion has destroyed 32000 lives of South Dakotan’s. That is 64 Herreids, 40 Selby’s, or 27 Eureka’s that were wiped from our map because of abortion.
You cannot serve both God and mammon. Yet some politicians will call themselves Christians or Catholics and allow 1.2 million babies a year to die so they can win an election. Jesus Christ says: “No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon.” You will hate one and love the other. The truth of this is seen in the fact that some people, when confronted with the preached Gospel, Choose to hate the Church, to hate the Pope, to hate their Bishop, to hate their priest, or to hate their fellow Christians rather than love the Gospel. Christ was right. You will either hate one and love the other or be devoted to on and despise the other. Christ also said this hate would happen. In John 17 he says “I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth.”
The Sixth commandment is one that people would like to get rid of as well. Thou shall not commit adultery. Our society argues against anything that limits them. They want what they want, when they want it and how they want it. Thus you see increased co-habitation, divorce and remarriage outside the church, premarital relations, trial marriages, people who want to redefine marriage to mean something other than between one man and one woman. You see it in the widespread use of artificial contraception even among people who call themselves Catholic. For some reason people think they can ignore 2000 years of teaching of the Church instituted by Jesus Christ, they can ignore the Pope: Christ’s vicar on earth, they can ignore their Bishop, a successor to the apostles appointed by Christ, and they know what is right. When we stand before God on judgement day we will have to give an account of our actions before God and every soul ever created. It will be interesting to see some of the explanations. “No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon.”
We are called clearly in the Gospel to choose our Master. We cannot have two. That is not a choice. Jesus Christ says it isn’t a choice and he can’t be wrong. We must choose to serve God or we choose to serve our worldly desires. They are called the 10 commandments, not the 10 suggestions. The reason they are commandments is because they are for our good. God gives us his law, not for his good, but for our good. We are called to choose to live for God and his will for us. We cannot serve things that contradict God’s will for our life.
When I was ordained a deacon the Bishop handed me the Book of the Gospels and commanded me “Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you now are. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.” It isn’t an option for me. My salvation depends upon it. What I can tell you is that the Yoke of Christ is easy and his burden light. Although we are called to die to ourselves we are called to live for Christ. That life is far better than anything the world has to offer. Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, what God has ready for those who love him. Service of God and others brings us the happiness we seek. Service of the world and ourselves brings us hate and destruction. “No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon.” The choice is yours. Choose well.