Choosing to Serve God and Passing that Inheritance to Children, Saturday of the 19th Week in Ordinary Time (I), August 17, 2013

Fr. Roger J. Landry
St. Bernadette Parish, Fall River, MA
Saturday of the 19th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I
Votive Mass of Our Lady, Pillar of Faith
August 17, 2013
Joshua 24:14-29, Ps 16, Mt 19:13-15

To listen to an audio of today’s homily, please click here: 

 

In the homily, the following points were made:

  • On the surface, the dialogue between Joshua and the Israelites in Shechem is moving. Joshua says he and his family have chosen to serve the Lord and he asks all of the Israelites to make a choice as to whom they will serve. His question shows that we’re always serving someone or something, and he wanted to bring the question to the surface. He knew that in the desert they had succumbed to serving the golden calf and, even when they weren’t in conspicuous idolatry, often they were not serving the Lord. He also knew in Canaan there were many pagan gods worshipped, providing a constant temptation. The Israelites, after reviewing all God had done for them, committed themselves to serving him. Joshua challenged them, saying that they may not be able and that God would hold them accountable. They replied that they would still serve God. A third time, he told them that they were doing so under oath and they publicly assented. After he said that they would therefore need to put away any and all idols, they replied a fourth time that they would serve the Lord and obey his voice.
  • All of this is very edifying, but the truth is that within a generation, the Israelites had totally broken the covenant. They didn’t pass the faith down to their children. They didn’t serve the Lord together with their household. To use today’s Gospel image, they didn’t permit their children to come to God. Despite all their words, their multiple promises, they didn’t keep them.
  • One of the reasons is because they didn’t really view the faith as they should have. Today’s Responsorial Psalm is, “You are my inheritance, O Lord!” The greatest thing we can pass to our children is God himself together with our faith in him. Far more valuable than bequeathing to children a trillion dollars is to give them the Lord. When parents look at the faith this way, they cannot help but transmit God. When they recognize and live as if God is the greatest treasure, that comes through with great clarity. When we write our last will and testament, it should be clear that our will was to do God’s will and our testament was faith in the New and Eternal Testament (Covenant) in God’s blood.
  • The second reason is because, I believe, they looked at their choice for God as a “preference” rather than as an all-consuming choice of life. To use an analogy from marriage, the choice for God ought to be taken even more seriously than the commitment one makes at marriage — and all of us know that marriage is a commitment of one’s whole life. To use an analogy from politics, to choose God doesn’t mean merely to “vote” for God in preference to other alternatives, but rather to “campaign” for God and campaign for him totally, by selling our house, our car, and giving all our resources to help him win. That’s what it means to choose to serve God.
  • The Blessed Virgin Mary is one who when saying her fiat meant it, kept it and wants as our loving mother to guide us to Christ her Son, not only so that he can bless us as he did the children in today’s readings by laying his hands on us, but so that we can be blessed by him through serving him and giving our life, as he did, as a ransom for others. He is our inheritance. He is what makes us rich. Today let us ask his help, through the intercession of his Mother, that we may choose him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and so that we may pass on the inheritance of his love as the first and most important gift to others, especially to our children, grandchildren, and godchildren.

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1
JOS 24:14-29

Joshua gathered together all the tribes of Israel at Shechem,
and addressed them, saying:
“Fear the LORD and serve him completely and sincerely.
Cast out the gods your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt,
and serve the LORD.
If it does not please you to serve the LORD,
decide today whom you will serve,
the gods your fathers served beyond the River
or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are dwelling.
As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”But the people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake the LORD
for the service of other gods.
For it was the LORD, our God,
who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt,
out of a state of slavery.
He performed those great miracles before our very eyes
and protected us along our entire journey and among all the peoples
through whom we passed.
At our approach the LORD drove out all the peoples,
including the Amorites who dwelt in the land.
Therefore we also will serve the LORD, for he is our God.”

Joshua in turn said to the people,
“You may not be able to serve the LORD, for he is a holy God;
he is a jealous God who will not forgive
your transgressions or your sins.
If, after the good he has done for you,
you forsake the LORD and serve strange gods,
he will do evil to you and destroy you.”

But the people answered Joshua, “We will still serve the LORD.”
Joshua therefore said to the people,
“You are your own witnesses that you have chosen to serve the LORD.”
They replied, “We are, indeed!”
Joshua continued:
“Now, therefore, put away the strange gods that are among you
and turn your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel.”
Then the people promised Joshua,
“We will serve the LORD, our God, and obey his voice.”

So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day
and made statutes and ordinances for them at Shechem,
which he recorded in the book of the law of God.
Then he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak
that was in the sanctuary of the LORD.
And Joshua said to all the people, “This stone shall be our witness,
for it has heard all the words which the LORD spoke to us.
It shall be a witness against you, should you wish to deny your God.”
Then Joshua dismissed the people, each to his own heritage.

After these events, Joshua, son of Nun, servant of the LORD,
died at the age of a hundred and ten.

Responsorial Psalm
PS 16:1-2A AND 5, 7-8, 11

R. (see 5a) You are my inheritance, O Lord.
Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge;
I say to the LORD, “My Lord are you.”
O LORD, my allotted portion and my cup,
you it is who hold fast my lot.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.
I bless the LORD who counsels me;
even in the night my heart exhorts me.
I set the LORD ever before me;
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.
You will show me the path to life,
fullness of joys in your presence,
the delights at your right hand forever.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.

Gospel
MT 19:13-15

Children were brought to Jesus
that he might lay his hands on them and pray.
The disciples rebuked them, but Jesus said,
“Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them;
for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
After he placed his hands on them, he went away.