Wednesday, August 26, 2015

You May Serve the Devil or You May Serve the Lord, but You Gotta Serve Somebody!

Serve Somebody

"You may serve the devil or you may serve the Lord," Bob Dylan once sang, "but you gotta serve somebody.

We heard in the First Reading, "If it does not please you to serve the Lord, decide today whom you will serve: Whether the gods your father served beyond the River, or gods of Amorites and those countries you are now dwelling; as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

We all have to make the choice of who we are going to serve.  We may serve the devil or we may serve the Lord; but we can't serve both, and we need to make a choice.


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There is a good man at our parish. I went to see him the other night in the hospital.  It was around ten or eleven o'clock at night.  I got there and his children were still there. They were sharing stories about their father.  He was a little discouraged because he is coming towards the end of his life and he is having heart failure.  The kids were trying to tell him what a good father he has been and what a holy man he is.  It was interesting because they started sharing stories of how their father has inspired them his whole life.  His father's only hope, as many parents' only hope, is that his children will all go to church one day.

They shared many stories of their father, but one that really struck me was actually from the son-in-law.  The father had first told his grandson this story.  He was going through a difficult time and there was a lot of arguing.  He is a farmer, and back in the day the farmers would have to decide things for the whole county in terms of the land. There was a big hole one year that needed to be dug out to prevent flooding.

So the city council had a meeting and people came from all over the county. It was a hot-topic.  There was arguing and yelling. You could feel the tension in the room and everyone was permitted to stand up and speak their case.  Finally, one man came to stand at the podium, he took a second in silence and looked at everybody, and then he made the sign of the cross and said a prayer. This brought peace to the entire room.  At that moment, he had made a choice for the entire city to serve the Lord.

We have to serve somebody.  It is going to be the devil or it is going to be the Lord?

In that moment, the man standing at that podium made a visual choice; that is, for him and his household, for him and his city, he was going to serve the Lord.

Parents, it is so important for you to realize that it is up to you.  I mean, nail that plaque to your household:  "As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord."   It is up to you to make it that clear that you have made the choice to serve the Lord.  You and not only you, but your entire household, is at the service of the Lord.

When you were Baptized as a child, that choice was made for you.  But at some point we have to make that choice in the depths of our own heart.  We have to choose to serve God with all of our heart, all of our mind, all of our soul.  We have to make a fundamental choice for our life, that is either going to take us towards God or towards the enemy.

One of Pope Saint John Paul II’s beautiful documents, Varitatis Splendor, which means the splendor of truths, says it has been rightly pointed out that freedom is not only a choice for one or a particular action; it is also, within a choice, a decision about oneself, and a setting for one's life, their total life for or against God, for or against the truth and ultimately for or against the God of the universe.

There are certain moral choices we make that shape our entire destiny.  Some decisions change everything. At some point, we all need to make this fundamental choice towards God, by means of which there becomes a total commitment of oneself to God. Are we going to give Him everything?  As disciples, we are ultimately called to make this radical decision. This radical choice:  That is, for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Saint Ignatius had what we call, the two standards.  The two standards were actually flags.  He wanted to use the image of two Kings, one on each flag. The flags were used for an exercise within his 30-day retreats, where others were given a choice to decide which flag they would stand under. The choice designated which team you were on. He would then relate it to the history of the Church, where Christ calls all, and wants all, beneath his standard. Meanwhile, Lucifer, the devil, calls all and wants all to be under his standard.

Ignatius said there is a mental representation for this; a great plain comprising the whole region of Jerusalem. This will be the sovereign kingdom of the commander in chief. All that is good in the Lord.   Then there is another plain. The region of Babylon, where the chief enemy is Lucifer. It is up to you to make a choice.  Which side will you choose?  Which flag will you be under?  Which standard will you be under?  What choice will you make as to who you will serve?  You have to serve somebody; it is either the devil or the Lord.

Bob Dylan’s song, "Gotta Serve Somebody" was based off the First Reading today:  As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.  But it also deals with the Gospel- Jesus gives a profound teaching about the Eucharist, and He says, "Unless you eat My flesh and drink My blood, unless you live and breathe in Me and die in Me, you have no life within you."  It is such a hard teaching to comprehend that after He says it, many of the disciples turn away.  They could not handle it.  They did not choose Christ. They walked away.  Then finally, He asked the remaining twelve, "What about you?  What will you do? What choice will you make?"  And Simon Peter, the leader and future Pope of our Church says to Jesus, "Lord, to whom else shall we go?  You have the ways of everlasting life."  It comes to that moment of desperation and realization, that if we choose anywhere else, we are serving the devil; but if we stay with the Lord, we inherent eternal life.

Below are the lyrics to Bob Dylan's "Gotta Serve Somebody" and I just want you to think about the words as you read them -- he gives a lot of different examples. Think about who you might be in this song. Have you made that ultimate choice in your life?  Have you made that ultimate choice to serve God with all your heart, your mind and your soul?

"If it does not please you to serve the Lord, decide today who you will serve:  The gods of which your father served beyond the river, or the gods of the Amorites of whose country you are now dwelling...

Gotta Serve Somebody

You may be an Ambassador to England or France
You may like to gamble, you might like to dance
You may be the heavyweight champion of the world
You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls. 
But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You're gonna have to serve somebody,
It may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody. 
Might be a rock 'n' roll addict prancing on the stage
Might have money and drugs at your commands, 
Women in a cage 
You may be a business man or some high degree thief
They may call you Doctor or they may call you Chief. 
But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You're gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody. 
You may be a state trooper, you might be a young Turk
You may be the head of some big TV network
You may be rich or poor, you may be blind or lame
You may be living in another country under another name. 
But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes 
You're gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody. 
You may be a construction worker working on a home
You may be living in a mansion or you might live in a dome
You might own guns and you might even own tanks
You might be somebody's landlord you might even own banks. 
But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes 
You're gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody. 
You may be a preacher with your spiritual pride
You may be a city councilman taking bribes on the side
You may be working in a barbershop, you may know how to cut hair
You may be somebody's mistress, may be somebody's heir. 
But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes 
You're gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody. 
Might like to wear cotton, might like to wear silk
Might like to drink whiskey, might like to drink milk
You might like to eat caviar, you might like to eat bread
You may be sleeping on the floor, sleeping in a king-sized bed. 
But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You're gonna have to serve somebody,
It may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody. 
You may call me Terry, you may call me Jimmy
You may call me Bobby, you may call me Zimmy
You may call me R.J., you may call me Ray
You may call me anything but no matter what you say. 
You're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You're gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody.

Who will you serve?  Have you made that ultimate choice in your life that is going to direct all of the other actions in your life?   Will you serve the Lord?  The choice was made for you in Baptism, but have you claimed that choice for yourself?  Have you come to the point, the depth of your heart like Peter, where you say to the Lord, "Yes, Lord, to whom else shall we go?"  You have the words of eternal life.  If it does not please you to serve the Lord, decide today who you will serve.  ...As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord."

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