El Shaddai Amsterdam celebrates anniversary
I wish you the courage to decide for Jesus Christ!
Every year the charismatic catholic El Shaddai community of Amsterdam celebrates its anniversary with a beautiful celebration in Vredeskerk, where they have their normal sunday-celebrations as well. I was there to celebrate Holy Mass with them and share in the joy that our catholic faith brings to our hearts.
Dear brothers and sisters,
Sometimes in our lives
we have to make courageous decisions,
some choices are a matter of life and death
and some are a matter of eternal life,
especially when they regard important moral issues
and issues regarding our faith;
for us a christians and catholics
it is important to live a coherent life.
We cannot preach one thing
and do the opposite;
We cannot let it go just like it goes,
sometimes we have to take a firm stand,
in order to be faithful to our vocation
as human being and christian.
That’s not so easy in our modern times,
it is easier to give in,
it is many times easier
to follow our desires,
but - as the Lord says to us today -
“No one can serve two masters”.
You have to choose:
Who is your master:
Jesus Christ or something else?
Be not afraid!
But be not afraid:
If you have fallen into sin,
please get up, rise,
bow your head, ask for God’s mercy
- we have got a sacrament for that! -
and make a fresh start.
Be not afraid!
The holy Spirit will strengthen us
and give us courage.
He will help us to be faithful
or to make that new start,
though we meet with many temptations, sufferings
and other difficulties.
Just have courage
and trust in God’s mercy and grace.
A history of sinners...
If we look back to oversee the history of the Church,
this history is full of weak and sinful people;
I think we all realize
how much harm can be done and is done
even by those who professed themselves
man and woman consecrated to God;
there are so many sinners all around us
and we are sinners ourselves;
but this history of the Church
and our own experiences
at the same time
are filled with people
who gave their lives
for Jesus Christ, for their faith,
out of love, as a sacrifice.
We will all have met people
who are inspirational to us.
Keep them in mind,
more than the bad people you may have met.
Look at them!
Please, don’t look too much to those
but look at the examples, at the lives
of thousands and thousands
of martyrs and confessors and all the saints,
like the saint pope Leo the Great,
whom we celebrate today.
He was a great teacher of the catholic faith,
Perhaps pope Leo is best known
for having met Attila the Hun in 452
and persuading him to turn back
from his invasion of Italy.
And when three years later
king Genseric was sacking the city of Rome,
pope Leo the Great went again
to meet this cruel king
and he persuaded him to abstain
from burning down the city and kiling the people.
His courage saved the lives of many!
Pope Leo was a man who knew
to take the right decisions
even if they were difficult ones to take.
He was a man of courage and trust
in God and His grace.
Some grains of incense...
And so there are many in the history of the Church:
to so many Christians was given a choice:
whom are you going to serve?
They could offer to the idols
some grains of incense
- not much was needed, not much -
and doing so save their lives,
but they choose to profess
their faith in Christ Jesus,
rather than betraying Him
with a few grains of incense.
Because: No one can serve two masters...
For the Pharisees - as we heard in the gospel -
money was very important
and also it was very important for them
to be treated with distinction and esteem,
to have beautiful garments
and to occupy a seat of honour
amidst those present.
They wanted the honours,
they thought they deserved them.
We are used to look upon these Pharisees
as enemies of Jesus Christ,
because they brought Our Lord to His passion,
they made Him suffer so much
and made Him die.
In a way it is strange that they put Him to death:
They were religious people,
even a praying kind of persons
and they wanted to appear as pious
in the eyes of their fellow-Jews.
But they were afraid
that all attention and honour
would go to Jesus and not to them;
they were jealous
and they were furious
because Jesus had criticized
their double heartedness.
They didn’t want to give up
their quest for wealth and honour,
to exchange their shiny appearance
for a humble heart.
However, It is easy to judge them,
but inevitably this comes back to ourselves
as a big and important question:
how do we choose, what choice do we make?
What decisions do we make?
Do we take one clear road
leading to the goal God has created us for,
or are we split up,
one half of us going in this direction,
the other half in the other direction,
a part of our heart for God
and a part for mammon?
But we have to make a fundamental choice:
my heart is for God
and for nobody else.
I may have my weaknesses,
but my goal is clear:
I want to be faithful.
“No servant can serve two masters.
You can not serve God and mammon”.
I wish you courage!
That the Holy Spirit may grant this courage
to all of us!