Sounds simple and straightforward, right? Perhaps. Our readings today, I believe, show us what alignment means.
In our first reading, we heard Joshua challenge the people, “If it does not please you to serve the LORD, decide today whom you will serve, . . . As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
And the people responded, “Far be it from us to forsake the Lord . . .” Alignment.
And in the Gospel, we heard Jesus challenge the twelve disciples, amidst murmuring and grumbling and people leaving the movement because it had become hard, really hard. He said to the Twelve, his inner circle, his core team, “Do you also want to leave?”
And Peter spoke up for them, in a moment of true insight, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Alignment.
Today we get two instances of perfect alignment:
Joshua: As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord
Peter: To whom shall we go?
If we were gathered for a full day, or even an hour, in a retreat-like setting, I would invite us into prolonged meditation on these responses. They can teach us, form us. Instead, as I do on occasion, I’m going to give that to you as your homework. In the next week, take ten minutes of silence to meditate first on Peter’s question: “To whom shall I go?” Just whisper that question to yourself over and over again, and I believe the Holy Spirit will bring you into alignment.
Then, on another day, take ten minutes of silence to meditate on Joshua’s statement, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Again, whisper the statement over and over to yourself, and the Holy Spirit will bring you into alignment.
I think if we all do this, it will bring our community of St. Charles into greater alignment with God’s work in the world.
In my five years with you, I don’t believe there has been a more important time for us to be aligned with God’s work in the world, and to maintain a laser focus on that alignment, than now as we transition our priestly leadership, launch into our partnership with De La Salle, and continue to navigate the challenges of the pandemic.
Let us remember and take to heart that we are first and foremost a community that cares for one another and cares for those who in need. This is our most important point of alignment, and we simply will not allow external challenges to distract us or deviate us from that course.
Let us remember and take to heart that we are a community that eagerly partners with others who share our charisms – welcome De La Salle – and conversely, we stridently resist those who try to hold us back.
Let us remember and take to heart that we are a community eager to learn and grow, and we challenge each other to do just that. We are not stuck in a rut, fixated on our status quo, nor resistant to innovative ideas. In solidarity with our new school partner, this fall we will explore the Lasallian charism that guides their faith and spirituality, and glean what we can.
Let us remember and take to heart that we are community that values authentic, personal, prayerful, and interactive worship as envisioned by Vatican II. For in our alignment, we know that liturgy is the work of the people. And we know a core component of our worship involves proclaiming, receiving, and interpreting the Word of God in light of the events of our community. And we hold fast to those called upon to proclaim and interpret, even if sometimes it means waiting until after Communion.
Let us remember and take to heart that we are a community that values authentic leadership that arises organically from within, recognizing that the Holy Spirit may tap any one of us to step up at any moment. The Holy Spirit does not concern herself with who is paid or volunteer; young or old; straight, gay or queer; black, brown or white; or . . . lay or ordained. If you are called to lead, there’s a place for you at St. Charles.
I’ve just given you five ways that we show alignment with God’s work in the world. What would you say? How would you complete this sentence: Let us remember and take to heart that we are a community that . . . Add that to your homework.
I believe that if we remember and take to heart these things, we will find ourselves in alignment with God’s work in world. And when we are in that place, we can trust that our community will withstand any challenge set before us.
Together, let us conclude our time today by simply pledging out loud the words of Joshua, “As for me and our house, we will serve the Lord.”