As a child I preferred football to other sporting activities and we did a lot of football playing. There was a ritual that preceded the game back in the day. Two Captains would normally emerge and would choose sides and pick players from among those who were available for the game. The interaction went this way:
Captain A: (Looking at Captain B) “I challenge you take one post?”
Captain B: (Pointing to his preferred goal-post) “I take this!”
Captain A: “I take that” (pointing to the remaining goal-post).
What normally followed was the picking of players. Since Captain B had the privilege of making the first choice of goal post, it then became the turn of Captain A to pick a player first. The best players were normally preferred before the better ones, the good ones, the average ones, the manageable ones and lastly the ones used to complete the team number.
The choices the Captains made during the picking (which was normally alternated between the Captains) determined to a great extent the fate of the team and the result of the game. Oftentimes some teams lost at the end because the players could not coordinate very well on account of some “bad players”. Success at the end of the game depended so much on the choices of players made before the commencement of the game.
Life is fundamentally characterized by choice-making. In fact, what we get out of life is often based on the choices we made in the past. One becomes an accomplished man or woman based on the choices made in the past. Making choice in life is like sowing seeds and we basically reap what we sow. Hence, there is need for us to be consistent in sowing good seeds (Gal.6:7-9).
In the First Reading (Joshua 24:1-2; 15-18), Joshua assembled all the Israelites at Schechem and told them that God had asked him to tell them to freely make a choice of whom they wish to serve. By this convocation we understand that God did not withhold the gift of freewill from humanity (Gen. 2:16-17), even after the colossal fall (Gen.3:1-18). From the direction of Joshua’s speech he was like telling the people “I challenge you take one post?” Joshua’s declaration tells us about God’s patience with us even when we are offensive to Him by our ways of life. Joshua’s speech shows us that God cares about us and He wants us to be saved; He gives us an opportunity to make the right choice. It points to God’s loving invitation for a dialogue with us which we do not deserve (Isaiah1:18).
I love Joshua so much from the way he handled the declaration of God’s message. At that point in time the people deviated from God and looked upon worthless gods of other nations around them. From their deviation from God, they landed into confusion and forgot the things God had done for them from the time of their ancestors to the time they were delivered from the land of Egypt; the land of slavery. They needed a Joshua who will bring them to their senses; moreover they needed a Joshua who will guide them by his own personal and family choice.
If you were attentive to the passage, Joshua made his own choice first before the people could respond. He was in essence leading the way of righteousness by a personal example, he gave the people clue to which choice that would be most rewarding, thus he declared: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!” (Joshua 24:15). The effect of his choice could be seen in the people’s response: “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord, to serve other gods; we will serve the Lord, for he is our God” (Joshua 24:16,18).
In the gospel reading today (John 6:60-69) our Lord Jesus Christ wrapped up his teaching on the Eucharist by challenging his hearers to make a choice of either accepting his doctrine that leads to life or leaving it for a damnable fate. Like Joshua in the First Reading, he was like telling them: “I challenge you take one post?” We are told that some thought of the doctrine of the Eucharist as intolerable language and consequently many of them stopped following him.
The truth is actually bitter! We could also note here that these were the same people who at the beginning of this chapter in the Gospel of John (6) were frantically searching for Jesus because they wanted to eat more bread. Jesus laid bare before them the bread that leads to eternal life as different from the bread that leads to eternal hunger. As we saw at the ending of the passage. many of them preferred the bread that will lead them to eternal hunger. They left the eternal bread and wandered away to seek that which will lead them to eternal destruction.
There is no doubt that in life many choose the wrong posts and pick the weak and unskilled players to play the football of their lives. The players here represent those things that drive and determine lives we live. However when Jesus asked the twelve if they would not join others in their choice of abandoning him and his words, Peter spoke up like Joshua did in the First Reading declaring their choice as a family for Jesus Christ as one who has the message of eternal life.
God has not stopped giving us chances to make choices. God has not withheld freewill from us. God is patiently waiting for you to take one post and choose the payers you need for the eternal game of life. You have a choice to accept and receive Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist or to refrain from doing so. You have the freedom to choose between servings and not serving God.
The Second Reading (Eph.5:21-32) gives us an insight into the marriage institution which is itself a product of choice making. The choices we make as to who becomes our husband and wife determines the type of family we end up having. Most before have ended up as couples staying together (not living together) on account of the defective choices they made in the past. St. Paul in the Second Reading advised that our choices should be motivated by love which actually endures all things as he pointed out in First Corinthians (13:7)
In life, any choice we make has its rewards or consequences. In making our choices, we should also know that there are people watching us and are ready to do exactly what we do. We are expected to reflect Joshua and Peter who led the way to the right choices. As a father, mother, elder, or leader your individual decisions can make or mar the lives of those who look up to you. What is your current choice now? To accept and partake in the bread of life or to wander away looking for the bread that has no life giving power? “I challenge you take one post?”
Have a blissful Sunday and a wonderful week ahead.