Opening Prayer –
O God, who cause the minds of the faithful to unite in a single purpose, grant your people to love what you command and to desire what you promise, that, amid the uncertainties of this world, our hearts may be fixed on that place where true gladness is found. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, you Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Gospel according to John
John 6:66 – This saying is hard, who can accept it… does this shock you?... the words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life. There are some of you who do not believe… no one can come to me unless it is granted to him by my Father… as a result of this many who accompanied him returned to their former way of life. Jesus turned to his disciples and said to them, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”
Today, each one of you made an irrevocable decision. Today you made a choice you will never be able to take back. You made a decision in such a way that once you made that decision you committed to it you can never undo what you’ve done: you sat in the seat where you are at. Or you ate the food you had for lunch. Or you parked in the parking spot where you parked outside.
When I first said you made an irrevocable decision, how did that happen to affect your brain? “Whoa, what’s he talking about? It sounds so serious!” But if you really think about it you are sitting in a seat you chose to sit in and because you chose to set there you can’t change that. Even the order in which you are sitting, you made that decision. I watched as people walked in. You know what it is like when you walk into the Church. You scope the Church, get the lay of the land, see who I like and who I don’t… um, I mean, where I don’t want to sit. Usually you look at where you normally sit and realize, “Someone is sitting in my spot! Rrrr!” After going through that process of decision making you then chose to sit where you are sitting now. Or when you entered the parking lot, you scoped the parking lot and then chose where you wanted to park. Or you opened your refrigerator for lunch today, you saw a whole bunch of options, you pulled out what you wanted to have. You made a decision today based on a discernment that you can no longer take back. And there is a lot of people in this world who are afraid of commitment. But you know what? Our entire life is commitment. Every decision we make, whenever we go forward with any decision we have made a commitment among many possibilities that can never be undone. When you stand up to leave to day you can leave from any one of eight doors, and please don’t do it before Mass is over. But, you can make a choice among many choices and today you chose to sit where you are sitting.
I say this because commitment is a part of our life; but we recognize there’s levels of commitment in our life. The choice to sit in your seat is not as big as the choice to follow Jesus Christ. Today’s opening prayer is very beautiful. It says, “O God, who cause the minds of the faithful to unite in a single purpose...” Our minds are able to discern what our choices are. And it ends saying, “…that our hearts may be fixed on that place where true gladness is found.” That our mind may know and our heart may grasp.
Commitment is an “all-in” reality. Many of us know what Texas Hold’em is. A form of poker where at a particular point in the game somebody recognizes that it has to all be on the line. So the shove all their poker chips in as say, “I’m all-in.” A commitment that cannot be taken back. And the risk for them is kind of a rush. And whenever we ourselves are called to follow Jesus Christ, we are called to be “all-in.” And we’re called to be all-in after we have discerned among many possibilities. You see, the middle of our prayer says, “a midst the uncertainties of this world.” This world is filled with uncertainties. Even our own faith has to go through the process of discernment. “Am I ready to truly be a follower of Jesus Christ, such that I say I believe in the Father, I believe in Jesus Christ, I believe in the Holy Spirit such that I am ready to commit with my whole heart to follow him. To be all-in.” This is what Joshua was saying in today’s first reading. An incredibly important line, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” He says, “Today there is before you a possibility. You can serve other gods or you can serve the Lord, our God.” But he said, “For whatever you choose, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Friends, I hope I can stir up in you the commitment you have in Jesus Christ. Many of us were baptized as infants. The choice was made for us as babies. But at a certain point we had to make that choice for ourselves saying, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” This is my faith! Jesus Christ died for MY sins! And I believe in him with all my heart, with all my mind and with all my soul. I am all-in!”
And whenever we are all in that means that our lives change. Things are different. And the fact is that a lot of people are afraid of commitment. A lot of people are afraid to make that final decision. Because we want our options open. This is the reason why marriage is suffering today. Many people are no longer committing to marriage. Rather they are giving themselves over to living arrangments that they can break at a moments notice rather than going the strong commitment that “This person and no other has my entire heart and soul for my entire life.” Our second reading says that marriage is the fitting example of Christ’s love for the Church. And the entire scriptures from beginning to end, from the book of Genesis to the book of Revelation and in the middle, all of it uses marriage as the fitting image of God’s love for his Church. Marriage is the most visible element of a committed heart so that we can understand that Christ loves his Church even as a husband loves his bride. And the Church jealously protects marriage because we recognize the value of commitment.
It is possible to make an irrevocable decision that binds you for the rest of your life. Your baptism wasn’t like picking a seat or a parking spot. Your baptism was the rest of your life. Your marriage was not like picking a seat or a parking spot. It was your total self given to your spouse. For us in our baptism given to Jesus Christ, heart, mind and soul.
And that commitment, my friends, will challenge you. Because you see Jesus stood his apostles down today. In John Chapter 6 he was eye to eye and toe to toe with his apostles. He had thounsands of people in front of him. Let’s think about this. Think about me preaching a homily and lets say that it is a very difficult moral topic. Pick one. The Church has a lot of them. The Church can call us to task on many many things. And you yourselves have had the conversations in which a person asks, “Why would the Church teach that about… Why does the Pope say…” You know those conversations are out there: the one’s in which you are facing a teaching that is calling you to change your life. And you have to look Jesus eye to eye and say “Yes” or “No.” Today’s Gospel in John 6 Jesus just got done saying, “My flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.” And the disciples, there were thousands of them, and the were like, “Did he just say that we have to eat his flesh and drink his blood.” And the Gospel today Jesus himself stood by that teaching such that in John Chapter 6, verse 66, 6:66, many of his disciples walked away. Over a half to 60% scholars say, walked away. I want you to think about 60% of you standing up right now and walking out the back door. And what did Jesus do? Did he back pedal, “Oh, wait, I mean…” No, he stood by his teaching. This is really his flesh and really his blood. This is not some symbol. This is not some wishful thinking. This is the body of Jesus Christ given to us so that we have our bodies united to his. Powerful!
And at that moment, when everybody else walked away, Jesus turned to his Apostles and said, “Does this shock you?” And then, “Do you want to walk away too?” He goes into it. And there comes a time in all of our faith lives where we have to ask ourselves the question, “Are we ready to commit to Jesus Christ.” And I’m asking you today: Have you lived on the fence. So-so. Mediocre. “I’ll accept most of the faith but not all of it.” “I’ll pray on Sundays but not every day.” Jesus Christ does not want half of you, he wants all of you. He wants your heart, he wants your mind, he wants your soul. And he recognizes that there are uncertainties in this world. But Jesus Christ makes certain the desires of our heart. And when we stand, like Joshua stood, and say, “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” You will be blessed. You will be challenged. And it won’t be easy. But don’t be afraid of commitment. Our entire life is commitment. You made a thousand of them today but this commitment is irrevocable and it’s the commitment that will challenge you. And at the same time open you up to eternal life.
Jesus, was all-in. He held nothing back. And even before he died on the cross he left us his very flesh and blood. There is no part of our savior that has not be totally turned over to us. And in a few moments you are going to say, “Amen” to a God who said I’m all in. That “Amen” is you saying back, “I’m all-in.”