Thursday after Ash Wednesday
(Deuteronomy 30:15-20; Luke 9:22-25)
“Choose life.” We have all seen bumper stickers and tee-shirts with this anti-abortion message. No doubt, people who feel burdened by an unexpected pregnancy find the message ironic. To them life is being liberated from responsibility so that they may care for other needs and pursue their desires. Life, then, is one of those simple words with various levels of meaning.
In the reading from Deuteronomy today, Moses exhorts the Israelites also to “choose life.” He has in mind God’s law that promises to extend the existence of both individual and community. Following these commandments of truth and justice, both present and future generations will thrive. Descendants will remember with gratitude forebears who passed on the law to them and so, in a sense, keep them in existence. Jesus radicalizes the message. As we hear in the gospel, he says that life comes when we choose to follow his way of self-surrender to God’s love. This may even involve a renunciation of biological life. However, its promise extends way beyond immortalization in the minds and hearts of descendants to a new realm of personal existence with God in eternity.
We have chosen Jesus’ way to life. But have we been faithful to that selection? During Lenten we test ourselves and make all necessary adjustments to renew the choice. We foresee ourselves easily back on the road to full life by Easter and happily partaking of full life at death.