21st Sunday In Ordinary Time
Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: August 22, 2021
Who or what do you serve? Who or what do you follow? We all serve and follow someone or something. As Catholics we would like to believe that we serve the living God, that we follow the Lord Jesus. But if we honestly examine our lives we will often find that we are serving something in this world. It might be the desire for money or the desire to be popular or the desire for security or the desire to be successful.
Who or what do you serve? Though we say that we serve and follow Jesus, if we honestly examine our lives we will often find that we are mostly just serving ourselves. I am following my own whims and interests.
We just saw a critical moment in the mission of Jesus. Many are leaving Jesus, they have decided not to follow him anymore. As they start leaving, Jesus turns to Peter and his apostles and asks them, “Do you also wish to go away?” We are faced with that same decision today.
Many of you speak to me about family, about friends, about colleagues who no longer practice the faith. They have decided to turn back like some of the disciples in this gospel. Jesus turns to you and to me and asks us as well, “Do you also wish to go away?” We have a decision to make, we have a choice to make in our life. Who will we serve, who will we follow?
If someone was to follow me around for one month, twenty four hours a day following everything I do, what would they see in my life? How do I spend my time and my energy? How do I use my money? What am I reading and watching? Who do I spend my time with and what do I do with my free time? How do I speak and what do I speak about? That person following me around and watching me, would they say, this is a person who serves and follows Jesus?
Maybe the key question is, where is your heart?
Someone once said that Love is a choice, not a feeling. In fact the key to love is to choose it even at times when we are not feeling it. The key to any vocation is to choose to love even when not feeling it. In marriage, a couple do not always feel wonderfully romantic and “in love”. There are times when there is no feeling at all or at least it is just very ordinary. This is when a person needs to continue to choose to love.
Same with priesthood or religious life. It is not always an exciting and mystical experience. Sometimes a priest wakes up and does not feel the presence of God at all and for the most part it is just very ordinary. That is when a priest needs to continue to choose to love.
Just as love is a choice, faith is also a choice. We need to make that choice of faith. Even when not understanding fully, even when not feeling anything special. At those times we need to make the choice of faith. Like Peter we need to answer Jesus, “Lord, to whom can we go, you have the words of eternal life.”
Love and faith are both a choice. It is a choice we need to make day by day. Even when not feeling it, even when the people around us are turning away from faith or rejecting it. We make that choice by the decisions we make in our life, by where we put our time and energy. What would someone see if they were to follow us this whole day?
Who would they say we serve and follow? Where is your heart?