Did you ever get so used to something that you forgot you were using it? Think about swallowing. If you do not have a sore throat, do you ever think of swallowing? We swallow many times a day and it affects our entire gastrointestinal system. Swallowing the wrong thing like a fishbone can put you in the hospital. Swallowing something pleasant like Napoleon Brandy can do a lot of things.
Exposure to these experiences is a matter of choice for all of us. When was the last time you were very conscious of your gift of free choice? Or do you sometimes wish that God made all the choices for you? If God did, then we would not have been made in his image and likeness. We would not be human. We have free choice.
In book of Deuteronomy (30:15-20), God sets out a serious and direct unambiguous question for our Jewish ancestors: “Today I have set before you life and prosperity, death and doom.” The Jewish people had once again been worshipping idols and breaking the covenant God had put before them. So God asks the Israelites to exercise their free will.
Just as it is inherent in Luke’s Gospel (9:22-25), God wants the Jewish people to focus on their judgment about what is truly profitable. You might say the choice is obvious, but is it? The cultures around the Jewish people and the ancient adherence to many gods can certainly make choosing false gods easier than dealing with this very demanding God.
Isn’t that true for a lot of the so called “menu Catholics” today? How easy has it become for Catholics not to believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist or not to go to the sacrament of reconciliation? We all have some kind of warts in our decision making.
But the good news is that just as we were created with taste buds to help us swallow the right things, so were we created with intellect, will and a Church to help us form a right-conscience so we can make the right choices.
So are we blessed with the almighty power of the Father, the passionate advocacy of Jesus Christ and the constant murmurings of the Holy Spirit, all wrapped up in love and the Lenten calling, “Repent, the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Deacon Bill Masapollo is a retired permanent deacon in St. Norbert Parish, Paoli.