‘Choice’ was the operative word in pre-Covid time. ‘What film or play will I choose and where will I view it? Where will we go on holidays? Will my sports training interfere with some other plan I made? Will we go away for a weekend?’ How often did we make choices saying things like, ‘I think I will visit my sister in the country next week? I am going to take a week’s holidays and go to the sun. I feel like going for a stroll on the beach but its 20 km away; so what, I have the car. Where will we go for a meal tonight to celebrate your birthday?’
Such were the choices people made without having a second thought. The world was the oyster for many. People were free to choose what they wanted in life. People exercised choice about most things from daily choices, to sports fixtures, to sacramental celebrations to decision-making.
Alas, the restrictions clipped our wings. Restrictions limited daily choices about life. For better? For worse? Moreover, in this current time and in the months following, consequences follow for people who make improper choices. Choice invites freedom.
The reading proclaimed at Mass today (Deut 30:15-20) offers God’s people a choice about their lives. God sets before us ‘life and prosperity, death and disaster.’ Choice has consequences. To obey the commandments, to love the Lord our God, to follow his ways will bring God’s blessings. On the other hand, not to obey, to refuse to listen, to worship other gods will have consequences. The Word encourages God’s people to choose life. Choosing life means that God’s people will live in God’s love, obey God’s voice, and cling to him.
The psalms in today’s liturgy of the Word, Psalm 1 for verses, Psalm 39 as response, proclaim that the one who trusts God will be happy. The psalmist uses the image of the one who chooses ‘the law of the Lord.’ That person is like a healthy tree that is ‘planted beside the flowing waters, that yields its fruit in due season.’
When Jesus speaks to his disciples in the Gospel today (Luke 9: 22-25), he understands that to live by God’s commandments is not always easy. Jesus knew that suffering, rejection and death awaited him. He also knew what lay ahead for the disciples. In following Jesus and in doing God’s will they would have to make sacrifices by taking up their cross every day to follow him. In Lent when we make a promise and commit to it, we make a sacrifice and by God’s grace, we commit to it.
Jesus’ words are challenging as he teaches about freedom and choice. The Holy Spirit prompts us to choose wisely in keeping the commandments. Jesus gave us the new commandment; ‘love one another as I have loved you.’ God’s love is unconditional.
On this Lenten journey, we follow Jesus as we pray, fast and give to those who are in need. When disciples act in this manner, they respond to God’s call to ‘come back to me with all your heart.’
Choice is a popular theme in the Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé Religious Education programme for Catholic primary schools especially in the Fifth/P7 and Sixth P/8 classes. The lessons on the theme of ‘Choice’ link to the formation of conscience and the sacrament of Confirmation.
VERITAS publications provide free access to the Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé resources on its website. These resources include interactive activities, prayers, video lyrics and access to the Children’s Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé e-books.
- Prayer to the Holy Spirit/ Paidreacha chuig an Spiorad Naomh
- Read what Jesus taught the disciples about choosing life in the Bible (Lk/ Lúcás 9:22-25)
- Read the Ten Commandments from your Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé e-book or from the Book of Exodus in the Bible.
- The names of the 12 apostles of Jesus. Can you remember a story about any of these apostles?
- The Holy Spirit brings us the sevenfold gift in the sacrament of Confirmation. Can you name these gifts? You will find them in your Grow in Love/ I nGrá Dé e-book.
- Why might the Holy Spirit think we might need the gift of courage? Do you know anyone who has courage? Have you watched a film or read a book where you encountered a courageous person?
- Before you go to bed tonight, think about the times today that you chose life by obeying your parents/guardian. Say ‘thank you’ to God. Ask God to help you to be a more loving person tomorrow
- In what ways have your choices been limited because of the pandemic?
- What do you wish for most in life right now?
Sr Anne Neylon