The Easy Or Hard Way – Fr. Viet Nguyen

Fr. Viet Nguyen’s Homily January 23, 2021

“There’s a spiritual principle that I would like to share with you. The principle is if you do what is easy in your life, your life will be hard, but if you do what is hard, your life will be easy. If you do what is easy and expedient in your life, your life will be hard, but if you do what is hard, your life will be easy. There’s many times in our lives when we have a decision to make. There’s two ways to go about it, there’s the way we want to do it and oftentimes God’s way. One is always easier than the other. For example, have you ever struggled waking up in the morning and not touching that snooze button because once you do that, it’ so much harder to not do it, but if you just get up things move a little quicker, a little better, or maybe you and your spouse should have this difficult conversation, but you take the easy way out and just kind of do the silent treatment and you let it draw out. It eats at both of you. Things are a little harder, but if you have the conversation and when you do you realize, why didn’t we do this in the beginning?

Oftentimes if you do what is easy, your life will be harder, but if you do what is hard, your life will be easy. Take for instance practicing a sport or even practicing an instrument. No one wants to practice. The easy way out is to skate by and let your skills do the work. Things get harder, but if you do what is hard, you’re more free to enjoy what is before you. 

In today’s first reading, it’s the book of Jonah. It’s a very short book in the Bible and actually it’s a very comical book, so I recommend that you read it. This is the story of Jonah, the prophet. God calls Jonah to go to Nineveh to proclaim the Gospel to repent for the kingdom of God is at hand, but to understand the full story you have to understand the background. Nineveh is this great city, really the enemy of Israel and God is saying, ‘You should go over to them and tell them they’re doing everything wrong. Go to your enemies and tell them they’re doing the wrong things, you should repent.’ Now of course, Jonah is thinking, ‘This is not what I want to do.’ God tells him, he shows him the direction. Go East by land. What does Jonah do? He goes west by the sea. He goes the opposite way of God. Not only that, he runs into trouble on the sea and after that we know the story of Jonah being swallowed up by the whale and spends three days in the belly of the whale. After that, the whale brings him to where he should be in the first place, so Jonah finally does what God says. He goes into the city and the city is large. It would take three days to walk through, but the first day he tells them, ‘Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.’ and what do the people do? They put sackcloth over them. They start repenting. Never did he imagine that it would be that easy. Not only that, even the animals laid down and put sackcloth on. Even the animals. 

If you do what is easy, your life will be hard, but if you do what is hard, your life will be easy. Oftentimes we underestimate ourselves. We can’t truly see our true abilities, what we’re worth, what we’re capable of doing. We sell ourselves short. That’s why in the Gospel Jesus says, ‘The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel.’ The first step is always to repent and what is to repent? It’s really to look at ourselves honestly, to humbly look at ourselves to see our shortcomings, our sins, yes, but also to see our strengths. Really to repent is to try to look at ourselves as God sees us that we’re more than our sins and in doing so we’re more free to receive the Gospel which is God’s transformative love. 

Now can you imagine what it took for Peter and all the other apostles to leave what they had and to follow Jesus? It probably was the gaze that Jesus gave them, that calling, that there was something more to you now do you believe it? Come and follow me. Oftentimes we’re afraid to follow God. We’re afraid of what he might call us to do. We’re afraid if we will be able to do it, if we’re capable of doing it. We don’t have to be afraid because God’s will is ultimately the best thing for us. Jesus said, ‘You are fisherman, yes, but not only that I will make you fishers of men.’ He takes what you have and he purifies it. He glorifies it. Now are you willing to accept God’s love in your life? Will you repent and receive and believe in the Gospel? Will you do the small things in your life that God is calling you to do? Will you do the easy things and make your life hard or will you do the hard things and make your life easy? As you come before the Lord today where Christ is truly present before you in the Eucharist, let us continue to ask the Lord for the strength and the courage to repent and believe in the Gospel. Amen.”