Homily – Deacon Mark Dillon – 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Today’s readings focus on choice – or more specifically, on making a wise choice. It’s important to recognize that every choice we make has consequences that directly affect some aspect of our life: sometimes good…other not so good. So it’s important to choose wisely.
If you remember the movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, you may recall a scene that requires Dr. Jones to make a difficult choice, similar to what today’s readings speak about. His choice was focused on obtaining “The Holy Grail” or chalice that held the Blood of Jesus Christ. Using an ancient map that led him to a cliff-side Temple, Indiana enters a dangerous pathway leading to a chamber that holds the Grail. But there’s a catch: the Grail chamber is guarded by a knight who stands vigil over the sacred chalice, which is hidden among dozens of false grails. Choosing the true chalice of Jesus would take careful thought and considerable wisdom.
Adding to the pressure of choosing the right grail was the sudden appearance of a man named Donovan, Indiana’s nemesis. He also sought the Grail to use its life-giving power for evil purposes. Now, both men must choose a chalice he believes to be THE Holy Grail.
Not being an historian like Dr. Jones, Donovan selects an elaborate chalice, one more beautiful than he ever imagined it to be; a Grail truly fit for the “King of Kings”. He slowly drinks from the cup believing it will bring him eternal life. But he suddenly begins aging rapidly to his death, ultimately exploding in a pile of dust and ash. The knight guarding the chamber tells Indiana…“He chose poorly”.
Then Indiana picks up a simple wooden cup, one that a carpenter would have fashioned, and drinks from it. He is immediately invigorated as he chose the true Grail filled with the life-saving grace that flows from The Blood of Christ. The knight softly smiles and tells Indiana, “You chose wisely”.
Like Indiana Jones, we all face many decisions in our life, although most of them are nowhere near as dramatic as Dr. Jones’. Our decisions include things like:
- Which high school or college to attend
- Which career to pursue
- Who to marry
- When to begin a family
- How we want to spend eternity! Now there’s an interesting choice to make.
Some of these decisions are more life-changing than others, yet they all have things in common. All of them come with a cost in order to reap the benefit. Choosing on particular path necessarily means leaving something or someone else behind. Some decisions will take us outside of our comfort zone, making us a little uneasy about where we are heading. We only hope that our decisions are based on the use of reason and wisdom which guides us to the “better” choice among alternatives.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us what is required if we choose to follow him and be His disciple. Like all other decisions we make, that choice comes at a cost. To be a disciple of Jesus means we may have to make some hard choices in the future: choices that many change both our life and lifestyle. Discipleship may mean sharing more of our time with our family and allotting fewer hours to office projects. It may require spending more time worshiping God and less time obsessing over sports, money or Facebook postings.
Jesus asks us to make time in our lives to take up the cross of our salvation and live what we profess to believe. Our Reading from Wisdom warns us that, as mere mortals, our deliberations over choice are often timid. But in choosing God above all other things we can’t afford to be timid. We need to be confident that, with God’s grace, our path to heaven will be made straight and true.
Are we ready to choose Him first, making our other relationships and possessions second to the things of God? Are we willing to seek reconciliation rather than discord; to live and forgive without limits or conditions? The choices we make to be His follower are difficult. And the consequences of those choices become “our cross”, which may not be easy to bear.
That’s why Our Lord asks us to think things through before choosing a course of action — just as you would do before building a tower or engaging an enemy. The decisions we make for our heavenly future should reflect the values that flow from “things that come from heaven”. How we embrace those values is found in our answer to two simple questions: Is there any one of our relationships that is more important than the one we have with God? And, are material possessions more meaningful to us than possessing His love?
We have a choice to make! And it’s important that our choice be guided by the grace and wisdom of God.
This week take a few minutes to:
- Pause in prayerful reflection before making any important, life-changing decisions,
- Think about the values you use in choosing the course of your life and the consequences (both good and bad) that may flow from your choices,
- Pray for the strength to live your life in a manner worthy of the Precious Blood of Jesus that was held in the Holy Grail.
and then, like Indiana Jones…“Choose Wisely”.
God bless you all.