God presents to us two choices. In the First Reading, Moses lays out two choices that the Israelites have: life or death. Life with God through obedience to God’s precepts; a life that comes from being in a relationship with God. Or death through disobedience; a death that flows from turning one’s back on God. In the Gospel, Jesus invites His disciples to freely follow Him to experience life, even during suffering and death. Those who wish to be His followers must be willing to suffer and die in order to have real life.
We also have the same choice: life or death. But what is true life? It is a life with God forever, which involves being willing to die to one’s self so as to live for God. This season of Lent that we started yesterday allows us to reflect on what aspects of our lives need to die, those things that prevent us from completely following Jesus. That can include addictions, negative attitudes toward others, pride, seeking to be something which may seem important, but which distracts us from deepening our relationship with God and with others.
This Lenten season is a great time to also perform positive actions to improve our relationships with God and others. Lent should be a working retreat, a time of withdrawing from our regular routine, at least those things which perhaps are not totally centered in God. It means to go out into the “desert” place in our lives and spending more time in developing our relationship with God and relating more to others. We can die to ourselves by being more life-giving and life-sustaining to those we encounter regularly and occasionally.
Today God is inviting us to spend less time and energy on ourselves and more time and energy on our relationships with God and others. In this way, we will be disciples of Jesus because we are choosing life, abundant life with God, rather than the death which comes when we focus on ourselves.
The choice is ours. We can make this forty days a time of renewal and dedication to life, or just a time where we follow the status quo and choose not grow in our relationship with God and others. I join with Moses and invite you to “choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the Lord, your God, heeding God’s voice, and holding fast to the Lord.”