Life or Death
Today’s readings start off simply: “before us are life and death, whichever we choose will be given to us” (from Sirach 15: 17). Do we choose life or death? Seems simple enough, I choose life!
But by the time we get to the Gospel, everything seems so much more complicated! Jesus says he has come to fulfill the law, but it feels more like he’s adding to the law, putting more and more actions on the “thou shalt not” list. It is easy to get bogged down in all the admonishments, but Jesus is simply trying to explain that it is not enough to avoid the really big sins, we are called to do better than that.
Thankfully most of us will not face the more drastic choices listed in the ten commandments. Most do not have to choose whether or not to kill someone, whether or not to steal or commit adultery. However, each of us faces hundreds of little choices every day, choices which seem unimportant at the time. Should I tell my coworker about the stupid mistake someone made even though it makes no difference to the coworker? Should I alter my morning jogging route so I can run into my handsome neighbour even though I know he’s in a relationship and I’m wishing he wasn’t? Should I swear to my boss that it wasn’t me who made all those extra photocopies? All these choices which seem to have little to no consequences at the time can end up hurting others and hurting ourselves.
Every day, when we have a choice to make, whether it be big or small, Jesus wants us to ask ourselves, “will this choice be affirming, encouraging, supportive, life-giving; or will it discourage, tear down or even kill, just a little bit?” And if we fail to choose wisely, if we choose to hurt, Jesus tells us to go and make it right, go repair the damage done, then come back to God and offer Him our sorrow for our choice and ask for forgiveness. In His infinite love and mercy God will take us back and give us new life.
The readings today remind us that no matter how small, each choice we make has consequences, and as Christians we are called to make sure those consequences are good ones.