My dear brothers and sisters,
All of us at some point in our lives need some kind of guidance, we need someone to help us make the right decisions, to point us on the right direction in life in order that we may live our lives to their full potential. Think back when you were in school and had to make some tough decisions about your future. I’m sure all of us wanted the direction of our parents, friends or teachers in order to make sure we were making the right decision. In the major choices we make in life, we always like to make sure we’re choosing the right path, and therefore it helps when people we trust point us on the right direction. In the gospel that we just heard, John the Baptist is once again pointing us toward the direction of the Messiah, and unlike in Advent when we heard John calling us to prepare the way of the Lord, to make straight his paths, John today is directly pointing to Jesus as he sees Him coming toward him on the banks of the river Jordan, and testifies before all those present that this is the promised Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
Many people came to see John the Baptist because they believed that he was the long awaited Messiah. They came to see him in order to get direction, to receive some kind of answer from John about the most pressing question of their lives: Who is the Messiah? Whom must I follow? Should we follow you? Or is there someone else? John recognized his mission to point the people in the right direction, to point them toward Jesus, the one who is the Son of God, the Lamb of God who came to take away the sin of the world.
Now, if you look at our world today, you can see that everything is trying to point us toward a certain direction. There are many strong forces in our society today which try and direct our lives, to make us choose something over another. A simple example is the fight between the iphone and the blackberry. There are marketers out there who try and tell you that getting the iphone is the right decision because it has all these cool apps and what not. And the same with the marketers of blackberry…they tell you that the right direction for your life is if your get their blackberry, because if you are a person who likes to email and text a lot, then you will enjoy the choice of having a keyboard on your phone.
Now I know this is a silly example, but you can see how everything that we do is somehow influenced by external forces, there is someone or something always there trying to point you to make a certain choice over another. This example was also silly because it really doesn’t matter what phone or television or car we choose. None of these things are bad in themselves, and these choices don’t really affect the kind of person we will become. I’m not a better person because I got myself an iphone over the blackberry.
But there are also strong voices in our society which try and influence our lives in things which really do matter, such as our moral choices, and these choices really do affect the kind of person I will become.
Moral choices are not things we can treat lightly, as if morality was just a matter of opinion, like buying this or that kind of car. Buying a Toyota over a Honda won’t have negative consequences in my life, but choosing something objectively evil over something objectively good will begin to harm my humanity and my soul. The moral choices we make affect the kind of people we become, and therefore it is important that we are pointed in the right direction, that we form our consciences properly. The only question is, Who are we going to listen to? Who are we going to trust with our lives and believe that they will help us make the right moral decisions in life?
Let’s be honest…many people today inform their consciences about right and wrong from what popular opinion tells them and it seems that today, the criterion for morality is statistics, the result of surveys of how people live and what they do. For example, people will say that the Church’s teaching on pre-marital sex is outdated, and the argument they will use is that everybody does it, so it must be right. Morality has also become relative, where your truth is just as good a mine, and there is really no such thing as objective right and wrong. For example, people will see the evil of abortion as someone’s personal opinion, instead of something which is gravely and objectively immoral. These are just two examples, but they highlight the way people are trained to think about morality, and there are many voices out there literally fighting for our souls, to have the upper hand in directing and pointing us toward making certain moral decisions. And it is very easy to listen to those voices, to those popular opinions, to those statistics about what is true, and about what is false.
And yet, at the same time, we have the Church, an institution of divine origin which is the voice of John the Baptist in our world today, a voice that doesn’t rely on popular opinion, but a voice that points us to one direction only, towards the direction of the Lamb of God, the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Contrary to what people say, the Church does not giving her opinion on moral matters, but it
truly does speak the truth in the name of Christ, and this truth is sometimes difficult to listen to, but it is a truth that truly liberates us, a truth that allows us to live and experience the fullness of our humanity. The Church’s moral teachings are not meant to deny our freedom, but they are there to help us become more human, to experience life in the way God desires for us to experience it, in complete freedom, but not a freedom to do whatever I want (because that is not authentic freedom), but a freedom to be able to choose the good and to love as God loves. Contrary to popular opinion, the Church’s moral teaching is about you and I experiencing happiness, because we can only experience true happiness if we live our lives according to God’s blueprint, and not our own. I know I’m not doing justice to this subject matter in this short time, but my hope is that people can open their eyes to the fact that the Church’s moral teaching is not some irrational set of rules, but it truly does seek to point humanity in the right direction, in the direction of truth, goodness and beauty, of experiencing life to the full, and ultimately to becoming who we are meant to become- to become like Christ in this world.
As we continue celebrating this Eucharist, let us have the courage to look toward the Church as the voice of John the Baptist in our world today, a voice that speaks the truth in the midst of a confused world. We all need to be pointed in the right direction, and it is the Church that points us in the direction of Christ, and only Christ can satisfy our longing for a life lived in its fullness.
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