According to today’s first reading, Joshua, who eventually led the Israelites to the Promised Land, placed two options before them. They were to choose between God and other gods (Joshua 24:1-2, 15-18). Similarly, in the gospel reading, Jesus Christ asked the Twelve Apostles to make a choice between Himself and the crowd of thousands who were deserting Him: “Do you also wish to go?” (John 6:67). These readings alert us to ask the question: are we for God or against Him? Let us consider four instances in which we have to make a choice for or against God.
a) Choosing between God or the gods: As mentioned above, Joshua asked the Israelites to choose between God and the gods (idols) of other people. While giving them these options, Joshua affirmed that he and his household would serve only God. On that occasion the Israelites also chose God instead of the gods of other people. However, subsequently, in some periods in their history, some Israelites abandoned God and chose other gods (cf. Book of Judges). Thus, there were times that some Israelites made a choice against God. Beloved, instead of the inconsistency of the loyalty of the Israelites, our choice should always be for God.
b) Choosing between God’s will and human will: Adam and Eve would have preferred God to the one evil. Nonetheless, the evil one cunningly leads them to choose him by appealing to their desire or will. And in deciding to exercise their will against God’s will, Adam and Eve sinned (cf. Gen. 3). So, anytime we prefer our will to God’s will, we sin against Him.
Besides deceiving individuals to prefer their wills to God’s, sometimes the evil one cunningly influences the will of the larger society. For instance, he sometimes cleverly uses the democratic principle of majority vote to lead societies astray. For example, though God, the Author of life, wills that no human life should be destroyed by a fellow human being (cf. Deut. 5:17), abortion and euthanasia are now acceptable in some countries.
Beloved, the majority does not always choose God’s will. In today’s gospel reading, for instance, it was the majority of thousands of people who deserted our Lord Jesus, whereas the minority of Twelve Apostles chose to stay with Him. Let us, therefore, be wary of the “Majority Deficiency Syndrome” (MDS).
c) Choosing between Divine Institution and human law: Once again, the evil one has deceptively influenced the democratic system for some human laws to be made which contradict divine institutions. For instance, the institution of marriage which has existed since God created the first human couple of a man and a woman (cf. second reading), has been redefined to include same-sex marriages. This notwithstanding, let us always choose divine institutions over human laws.
d) Choosing between Christ’s teaching and human thinking: According to the gospel reading, the multitude deserted Christ because they disagreed with His teaching that He is that Bread of Life that had come down from heaven. In their thinking they could not take His body and blood, and so they left Him. Beloved, the divine mind is infinitely superior to the human mind. In other words, the thoughts of God are not our thoughts (cf. Isa. 55:8-9). Similarly, we cannot understand all the mysteries of God, for His ways are not our ways (cf. Isa. 55:8-9). Therefore, unlike the multitudes whom the Lord fed, anytime our thinking seems to contradict the teaching of Christ, let us humbly submit to His teaching.
Conclusion: Beloved, let us always choose God over gods, His will over human will, His institutions over human laws, and the teaching of Christ over human thinking. Finally, whenever the will of God is not clear to us, let us pray to the Holy Spirit to give us the grace to discern it and the courage to choose it. Amen!
By Very Rev. Fr. John Louis