Year B: 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
Joshua 24: 1-2, 15-18
The First Reading takes us back to the days when the people of Israel were beginning to settle into their new land. As with any group of immigrant people, there is a desire to be assimilated into the prevailing culture - to become accepted as a member of the community. This is understandable - and, to an extent, desirable. The question posed by Joshua, however, illustrates one danger of this - the immigrant may be faced with a choice: do I reject God in favour of the gods of the culture in which I live?
This choice does not just belong to a group of people living thousands of years ago - nor does it only affect people who immigrate to new countries today. The same choice lies before us too - for we are a pilgrim people whose home is not entirely of this world. We, in effect, are like the Israelites living in the land of the Amorites. The gods of the cultures in which we live may not be the gods of fertility or carved images of the Amorites - but they are powerful nonetheless.
It is the responsibility of all people of faith to look at their belief-system - and to see how the gods of the culture in which they live may threaten to compromise them. Some of the gods may seem to offer prosperity and security: some may seem kindly and reasonable - but the person of faith has to make a choice: God or the gods of the culture in which they live.
In our society, the gods include materialism - sexual licence - success - status - and so on. We may not be asked to burn incense in front of them - but we may be expected to worship them - as in the worship of celebrities. We may be expected to sacrifice our family-life - time - even health on the altars of “success” and “status”. Standing back may leave us feeling exposed and open to ridicule... even though we were born in a country, we may feel alien to it. These are the times when, like the people of Israel we need to stand in solidarity and know that we are not alone in choosing to worship the Living God - and not the false gods of the culture in which we find ourselves
What does it mean for me?
© 2006 Wellspring