Making the right choice even when it seems impossible

I again wish to feature the homily that Fr. Edwin Gomez gave last Sunday based upon these readings from scripture: Joshua 24:1-2a, 15-17, 18b; Psalm 34:2-3, 16-17, 18-19, 20-21; Ephesians 5:21-32, John 6:60-69

There are just too many choices.

In our modern culture we have so many options that many times we can’t choose one over the other.

We can have 500 hundred channels of cable TV and still have nothing to watch on the television.

We treat life like sampling a Chinese pu pu platter: we want to be able to try everything.

College students many times have 2, 3 or 4 majors … different degrees so they can have a lot of job options.

Too many choices! And we want to have it all.

Today we have two examples in the scriptures of just the opposite.

The fact is that spiritually and honestly for the best things in our lives we do need to make choices that exclude other things.

Joshua in our first reading tells the people that they could choose to worship the God of their ancestors, the God that they were used to, or they could choose to worship the God of this new land, the God that will be unfamiliar to them. Joshua leads the people to choose to serve the Lord, the one God of Israel. They made their choice.

A choice between goods will always be a difficult choice
and it always excludes something else.

The same thing happens with Jesus in our Gospel, This is the 5th week in a row that we hear “I am the bread of life”.

Stop saying that!

What they said was, “This is too hard. This teaching is too hard; we cannot accept it!”

Jesus made it clear a choice had to be made: “Choose to believe that I am the Son of God that came down from heaven. And the way that you believe in me is that you will eat my body and drink my blood.”

This saying is too weird. This teaching is too hard.

The healing, the teachings were nice, the reaching out was nice and inspired them, but now he has gone too far.

What is sad about this scripture is that some of his disciples turned away and no longer follow him. They went back to their former lives.

Choices!

I wonder what in our day will make us choose like that. What could Jesus say to us that will make us say, “This is getting too hard, I do not know if I can do it!”

Some of us struggle with some of the teachings of the church.

I have and I do. There are a few things that I can think of that cause me to say, “This is hard, who can accept it?”

For some of us it is hard to accept that God is forgetful.

He forgives us and unlike humans, he forgets. God holds no bitterness, no resentments, and no anger against you.

It is hard to accept that God is blind and he is indeed blind.

He does not see the negative or the broken in us, only the positive and the possibility of healing and fullness of life.

It is hard to accept that God is stubborn and he is indeed stubborn

He will not give up on us, ever. There is nothing we can do to make him love us any more than he does. And there is nothing we can do to make him stop loving us. He will pursue our hearts, for decades if he has to, until he gets us to fall in love with him and let him in.

I think what the gospel is inviting us to say is what Peter says, what Peter representing all the apostles said to Jesus:

“Lord, to whom shall we go, you have the words of everlasting life.”

“We are convinced that you are the holy one of God.” Notice that Peter does not say, “Okay! I got it, I understand it all, and I am right on board with you.” I am sure Peter and the disciples were as freaked out as everyone else.

But Peter’s answers reflect faith and faith sometimes needs to step out.

There are things that we do not believe, things that we do not completely understand. Maybe there are things we do not agree with. We say, “This is a hard saying,” but where else will we go?

“You have the words of everlasting life.”

We had to make a choice by coming here. There are a lot of things that we could be doing but we made a choice to come here.

At some point in our life we are forced to make a choice between one thing and another.

The choices we make now will affect us later on. We will need to let go of things in order to get what is really important. To me the choice is to be present as much as I can in my life. To see the beauty in everything, to find God in everything, even in our struggles, shortcomings and sins, and to remain open and aware that nobody has all the answers.

For me it is about letting go of all my junk, letting go of my prejudice, my control, my securities and the false belief that I have to know it all and have all the answers.

So, maybe we do struggle, I know I struggle. Sometimes I do not get it. And yet to whom shall we go?

Click to Tweet & Share: “Lord, to whom shall we go?” What happens when the teachings of Jesus are too hard to accept? http://wp.me/p2D9hg-9L

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Susan Bailey, Author, Speaker, Musician on Facebook and Twitter
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Forget it and move on

The associate pastor at my parish of St. Luke the Evangelist, Fr. Edwin Gomez, gives wonderful homilies. From time to time I’d like to share them with you. This is  his homily  from Sunday, August 19, 2012, the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time on the liturgical calendar.

The readings used for that week were Proverbs 9:1-6, Psalm 34:2-7, Ephesians 5:15-20, John 6:51-58.

Fr. Edwin reminds us of something we often forget. He begins with a story …

An 80-year-old couple was having a problem remembering things; they decided to start writing things down and make notes to help each other remember.

One night while watching TV, the old man got up from his chair and his wife asks, “Where are you going?”

He replies, “To the kitchen.”

She asks, “Will you get me a bowl of ice cream?”

He replies, “Sure.”

She then asks him, “Don’t you think you should write it down so you can remember it?”

He says, “No, I can remember that.”

She then says, “Well, I also would like some strawberries on top. You had better write that down ‘cause I know you’ll forget that.”

He says, “I can remember that, you want a bowl of ice cream with strawberries.”

She replies, “Well, I also would like whip cream on top. I know you will forget that so you better write it down.”

With irritation in his voice, he says, “I don’t need to write that down, I can remember that.”

He then went into the kitchen. After about 20 minutes he returns from the kitchen and hands her a plate of bacon and eggs. She stares at the plate for a moment and says, “You forgot my toast.”

Forgetful and Very Wise at the same time. Ha!

“Brothers and sisters: watch carefully how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise” (Ephesians 5:15) To be wise is the invitation. And today I am going to share with you my greatest discovery…I have found the way to become really wise.

Ready?

In order to be wise you have to be forgetful as God is forgetful. You have to imitate God’s forgetfulness.

Surprised? Let me explain.

Think about His mercy. He forgives you and unlike humans, He forgets.

He holds no bitterness, no resentments, no anger against you for anything you have done in the past.

The past is history, the future is a mystery, so live in the present with no fear of recrimination or punishment.

You cannot be wise unless you have been in some kind of interpersonal, interactive relationship with God. Only will you know that God is compassionate, that He will let you start over again, every day fresh and new.

Good News: God forgives anyone who is willing to be forgiven. Willingness is the key here … that is the only requirement to becoming wise.

And this is the bread from heaven. (“I am the living bread that came down from heaven…” Gospel of John, 5:51)

This is what we need to learn to eat. To eat the life of God.

And if you do not have a life with God, an hour in church on Sunday is probably not going to make up for you. If you are not living with your merciful and “forgetful” friend all week, an hour during the weekend does not create a friendship.

That friendship has to be pursued and nurtured morning, afternoon and night as with every true friend that you have.

And then, you learn how to imitate God’s love and how to be wise, because you know what God is like. God is El Amigo, is a companion, is someone who loves you more than you love yourself, who forgives you more easily than you even know how to forgive yourself.

Today is a new day, a day in your journey to meet the friend, to meet the “forgetful” God. The only way to become wise is to imitate God, the One who loves you just the way you are, the One who is forgetful and forgiving about your past and loves you.

“A wise man once sat before an audience and cracked a joke … all of them laughed like crazy. After a moment he cracked the same joke again, and fewer people laughed … he cracked the same joke once again and no one laughed. Then he smiled and said ‘If you can’t laugh at the same joke again and again, then why do you keep crying over the same thing over and over again?’”

Forget the past and move on.

“Loving God, help us to imitate you … help us to forgive and forget as You forgive and forget. Amen.”

Fr. Edwin Gomez, former associate pastor of St. Luke the Evangelist Parish, Westborough, MA

Click to Tweet & Share: Forget about it! God’s way of forgetfulness is the truest love of all http://wp.me/p2D9hg-86

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Susan Bailey, Author, Speaker, Musician on Facebook and Twitter
Read my other blog, Louisa May Alcott is My Passion