Sunday, August 23, 2015

Our House

“As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)

This is our House.  This is where we come to worship every Sunday.  This is where our community comes to life on the Lord’s Day.  This is where we encounter the Living God.  This is such a special place.  In this House is where we become the “Immaculate Family.” On a personal note, this is where my heart is filled with joy when I see God’s House overflowing as it is this morning for our “Back to School Mass.” There is no place I feel more at home than when I behind the altar offering the Holy Sacrifice for all of you.  All our children are getting ready to embark on another school year of educational adventures, and parents, I thank you for bringing them here this morning to receive the Lord’s blessing as they start a new year.  You have brought them to this House so that they can go forth strengthened by God’s blessing.
But a visit to this House isn’t simply any ordinary visit.  It is a visit that should transform us.  It is a visit that should allow us to delve deeper into the mystery of Christ himself who so very part want to be at the center of your family, so I ask you:  “Is Christ the center of your family?”  Let me take it a step further and ask a more practical question:  “Is Christ the center of your Sunday?”  I know the Church is full this morning because announcements went out and plans were made well ahead of time, but why isn’t it this way every Sunday?  Isn’t this what the Lord deserves?  Or do we make other things the center of our Sundays?  Lest we forget, the third commandment: “Keep holy the Sabbath day.”  Do we make this day holy?  Or are we concerned with traveling with our kids to sporting events, dance competitions, to visit family (which is fine after Mass), or doing everything else and then leaving the Mass for the “if we have time” column?  You’ve heard me say it a thousand times: Holy Mass should be the center of our Sunday.  Everything else, all other events we have planned should revolve around when we go to Mass.  It is a day of rest after that.  A day to spend with family and friends continuing the communion that we have established here in this House.

Yet this is not always the case.  We get lured away by the things of this world.  This is what is happening to Joshua and his people in the first reading.  Joshua is the heir to Moses in leading the Israelites into the Promised Land, but he notices that their attention is being taken away from God and they are being distracted by other gods as they travel through foreign territories.  Joshua draws a line in the sand:

“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 now dwelling.
As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
A similar line in the sand is drawn by Jesus in today’s gospel.  For the last five weeks we’ve been hearing Jesus telling us that he is the bread of life come down from heaven, but today this teaching is starting to bother his listeners.  Jesus speaks harshly.  He wants committed followers but many don’t want that commitment and start to walk away.  This prompts Jesus to turn to the Twelve and ask: “Do you also want to go?”  Simon Peter responds: “To whom shall we go?”  Pope Francis made a distinction in Peter’s words this morning pointing out that Peter didn’t say “where shall we go?”  He said: “To whom shall we go?”  Who else is going to feed us like Jesus?  Who else is going to give us peace like Jesus?  Who is going to challenge us to live better lives like Jesus?

My friends, like Joshua and Jesus, I too am drawing a line in the sand this morning.  I want this church packed every Sunday. Jesus longs to see you here at this time in our House.  I long to see all of you here.  So since the Lord has placed me as the head of this household so to speak, I ask you: what is important to you when you wake up on Sunday morning?  Will you follow the way of the world or will you follow the way of the Lord?  “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord!”