TWENTY FIRST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – 2018
“DECIDE TODAY WHOM YOU WILL SERVE?”
As early as the age of five, I became aware of this biblical phrase in discourse, but I would not say that I could meaningfully explain what it fully meant then. How do I come across this famous discourse of Joshua? My mind could nostalgically flash forty-five years back on the wall in our sitting room, where my mom hung the glass framed words of Joshua, with bold gold prints on a red background, which says, “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.”
Catechetical, moral, and theological lessons: It is important that parents realize that they are the first moral formators for their children. A family that prays; has reli-gious images in their homes, and has conversations on Godly stories and activities, will likely have their infants not stray too far away from their Creator. Certainly, it is still likely that a few may choose not to serve the Lord, but you would be happy you did. The flipped situation here would not be a better alternative. Let us unravel the challenge that Joshua had for the Israelites. Joshua guides the people of Israel as a Father or Mother ought to care and guide their family. Though, he personalizes his own family to buttress his point, he, nevertheless, still cares for the people he had to lead into God’s land. Of course, the Israelites, whose Fathers rebelled against God, refused to follow their Fathers ingratitude, but accepted to follow God, who, Joshua, serves.
I have listened with utmost amazement, but not surprised either to some of these celebrities, journalists, professionals and successful persons in this life that often said that religions are the sources of problems in our world. Tempting to believe it, isn’t it? How easily people forget the power of the devil to deceive us. Some of them do vehemently and adamantly argue that the Bible is not the word of God, and, therefore, should not be adhered to. Still others argue that maybe in a hundred years’ time, a superior mind or intelligence (Technology) will replace Christianity and Jesus Christ. In as much as these views are blasphemous, I still respect the freedom of speech of these self-acclaimed elites, I am disturbed that most of these radical views are coming from people who had the privilege to be raised within the Christian ethos and values. Joshua is not afraid to challenge the people of Israel to choose who to follow: The True living God, who made heaven and earth, saved them from the evil heavy hand of Pharaoh of Egypt or the lifeless gods and goddesses of the ungodly. Permit me to attest here, brethren, that these celebrities believe that their successes and fortune are as result of their intelligences and smartness. I refused to agree: this is nothing short of worshiping lifeless gods and goddesses, though they may not know it. Please, not to believe in God, is to believe in something, which is opposite of God. Sadly, it is the height of naivety for people to grow up, get comfortable in life, and then decide to challenge God. I think it is the wrong side of the aisle to be on. Once again, let us bear in mind that mine or your denial of God, does not make God not to exist. God exists, and I have chosen to follow him than to follow the charlatans.
Father Uche Obikwelu