Thursday after Ash Wednesday
(Deuteronomy 30:15-20; Luke 9:22-25)
“Choose life.” We have all seen bumper stickers with this anti-abortion message. No doubt, people who feel burdened by an unexpected pregnancy find the message ironic. To them life means not taking on the responsibility of birthing a child so that they may pursue personal ambitions. Life, then, is one of those simple words with a range of meanings.
In the reading from Deuteronomy today, Moses exhorts the Israelites to “choose life.” He has in mind God’s righteousness that promises to benefit both individual and community. By following God’s commandments not only the present generation but also future ones will thrive. As is his custom, Jesus radicalizes Moses’ message. He tells his disciples that life comes when they lose their lives for his sake. This loss surely entails some sacrifice of personal ambition and may require prematurely letting go of biological life. But these are small forfeitures in comparison to the promise of happiness in eternal life.
Made at Baptism and renewed in every Eucharist our choice has been for Jesus’ way to life. But have we been faithful to that selection? During Lent we test ourselves and make all necessary adjustments. We should foresee ourselves securely on the road to full life by Easter.