There is nothing like missing the mark on the second day of a new resolution! But there is also nothing like forgiving yourself and starting over. When I started this Lenten series, I did not account for the two mornings a week that I volunteer at a vaccination clinic. By the time I got home from that yesterday, fed myself lunch, and got into my afternoon routine, my promise of a daily reflection to be published here had slipped my mind. So here I am to offer a reflection on yesterday’s readings, and then I’ll publish a reflection for today’s shortly thereafter, with thanks to the Holy Spirit!
The readings for February 18 resounded, for me, with the message that faith is both a gift and a choice. What I mean is that faith itself is a pure gift from God; how we accept it, respond to it, and use it in our lives is a choice. Don’t get me wrong: the choice itself is based in grace, but we have the free will to accept or reject.
Moses, in today’s reading from the book of Deuteronomy (Ch. 30:15-20), preaches passionately to his people about their choices: “I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him.” There it is: God lays all before us. What we take up, what we live out, is our choice.
The theme continues in Psalm 1, which contrasts the choices of the sinner with those of the blessed man, whose choice to reject evil and wholeheartedly embrace the law of the Lord puts him firmly on the right path.
And in the brief Gospel reading (Luke 9:22-25), Jesus tells us of His own choice to suffernd die and rise again (and it was a choice – fully human, Jesus had free will), and lays our own choice out for us: We can choose to follow him, taking up our crosses and denying ourselves; or we can choose to “save” our lives – that is, to live as though we are rooted in this world – and thus ultimately lose them.
Jesus shows us the one choice that truly matters in life: We can “gain the whole world,” that is, immerse ourselves in the material things and daily activities of the temporal world, at the cost of losing our very selves. If my true self is the soul that God breathed into me at my making, then that cost is too high.
Jesus, my King and my Beloved, lead me in my choices this day and every day, so that in observing this holy season of Lent, I may learn to choose life – the life that You taught, rooted in the Cross and in Your love – and leave aside the false life that this world with all its temptations offers. Let me live a life of loving You, heeding your voice, and holding fast to you, as I fasten my eyes on the glorious hope of Your Resurrection. Amen.
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