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How to Serve the Lord, and Why

(21st Ordinary Sunday: Joshua 24:1-18; Ephesians 5:21-32; John 6:60-69)

Warning! This week’s readings will challenge all of us in different ways.

The last time we encountered these readings (three years ago), the title of the reflection was Whom shall we Serve?Everything pointed to the obvious answer— we serve the Lord. For us, the decision is made! We, like Joshua, choose to serve the Lord. Great! Now what? Next comes the how.

What does it actually mean to serve the Lord? What can we do? Our Lady of La Salette gives a partial list: daily prayer, weekly Eucharist, the annual discipline of Lent, respect for the name of the Lord.

The full list comes to us from the Scriptures and the teachings of the Church, which also place before us the importance of love of neighbor, through the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.

So we are called to prayer, love, mercy. But the how of service does not end with the performance of these things. All of these presuppose two fundamental attitudes: submission and conversion, which we always experience as challenging.

Joshua gave the people options. He said, “Decide today whom you will serve.” This was their moment of truth. They gave the right answer: “We also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.” Was that enough?

The real how of serving the Lord may be summed up as follows: if I faithfully, truly and honestly want to serve the Lord, I may do so only if my commitment to him is absolutely unconditional. But can I really be so sure?

The answer to that question brings us to the why. Simon Peter spoke for the Apostles and, we hope, for us, when he said, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

What a powerful statement of faith! Is it ours, too? Do we really believe that our life is nothing without Christ? Are we willing to accept his will, and even be subordinate to each other, out of reverence for him?

The challenges are many, but still we may hope to cry out with the psalmist, “Let my soul glory in the Lord!”

Wayne Vanasse, and Fr. René Butler, M.S.

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