Today’s readings reinforce in us the necessity to choose wisely.
- In Sirach we hear the prophet tell us: ‘Before man are life and death, good and evil, whichever he chooses shall be given him.’ We get the feeling that we have to choose whether we are ready or not.
- St. Paul finishes the second reading with, seemingly, an ominous sentence: ‘For the Spirit scrutinizes everything, even the depths of God.’ It can give the listener a rather Orwellian feeling, as if they are being watched over at all times.
- Jesus, puts into stark terms what demands He places on us to be followers of His; it seems insurmountable and we are doomed to fail.
To the prophet’s proclamation the answer is – yes we have to choose whether we are ready or not – and we have to choose constantly, it is never over. To Christ’s message: we will fail, again and again. Our choices will err and we will find ourselves in the despair and turmoil of one who is outside the embrace of our Heavenly Father. But the good news is the rather ominous sentence from St. Paul – yes we are being watched over at all times, but not by a Cold War Secret Police but by Love itself.
The mountain that we are called to climb for our Lord is definitely an impossible climb. Due to our concupiscence we can never make it to the top. It is out of our reach. The teachings of Sirach and Christ that we hear today are too much for us. But they are not too much for God; and He is never apart from us. ‘Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.’ St. John the Baptist proclaimed to those on the shore as Jesus walked toward them. Here is the one who can help us, save us he proclaims. Christ is not only walking toward us but walking next to us, and He is looking to carry our sins. These teachings He gives us today comes with His loving help. He gives His Holy Spirit to open our minds and guide our hearts; He gives us the continual chance to cleanse ourselves and re-choose in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. He gives us His very body and blood, soul and divinity to nourish and strengthen us.
We can and will fall and He can and will always lift us up. All we need to do is trust in the Lord. Some might feel that this is a risk – it is not – it is the most sure bet we can make. Pope Francis, in a homily to a Rome parish told them: ‘this is a risk we must take: to trust in Him, and He never disappoints. Never, never!’
As we continue on our journey, as we try and retry to climb the mountain to our Heavenly Father; let’s not look back down the mountain or up towards the summit but look to our side and gaze on our Lord as he offers us His hand to help us and His back to carry our failings.
 1/19/2014 – Homily to Sacred Heart Parish Rome