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 slogan. No doubt, people who feel burdened by an unexpected pregnancy find the message ironic. To them life is being liberated from the responsibility of child-bearing so that they may pursue other concerns. Life, then, is a simple word with different meanings to different people.
In the reading from Deuteronomy today, Moses exhorts the Israelites to “choose life.” He has in mind God’s law that extends the well-being of both individual and community. Following the road of righteousness, both present and future generations will thrive. Descendants will cherish the memory of forebears who taught them the law and so, in a sense, keep their ancestors in existence. More importantly, the law will secure the bonds that hold the people together
Jesus radicalizes Moses’ message. As we hear in the gospel, he says that life is the outcome of his way of self-surrender. This may involve even a renunciation of biological life. However, it promises more than immortalization in the minds and hearts of descendants. It looks toward a transcendent, personal existence with God in eternity.