Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Choose Life!

A Transformative Journey; © 2015 University of Notre Dame

By Beth DeCristofaro

Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Then (Jesus) said to all, "If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. (Luke 9-23-24)

“Lord, who overcame the deceptions of the Tempter during the forty days in the desert, show us the path we must take. May the Holy Spirit lead us on a true journey of conversion so that we can rediscover the gift of God’s word, be purified of the sin that blinds us, and serve Christ present in our brothers and sisters in need.”[i] (from Pope Francis’ 2017 Lenten Message)

Moses exhorted the Chosen People three times in Deuteronomy.  The People are on the border to the promised land and Moses reminds them yet again to “choose life” by worshiping and following God rather than risk being cursed in idolatry.  The People will soon be free from wandering in the desert when they cross the Jordan River while we, today, begin our wandering in the desert-retreat of Lent.  Choose Life, loving (God) and walking in his ways! (Deut 30:  Jesus’ message is in line with Moses’.  He offers God to his followers but reveals that suffering is in the commitment.  Taking up the cross sounds daunting and hardly life-affirming.

Jesus wants us to choose humility, forgiveness, mercy, reconciliation and community which is what he chose at every step.  He rejected violence and division, inviting all who were willing to shoulder the cross to be with him.  And he gave us the Good News that in his acceptance of the cross, in his death and in His resurrection, he is with us in suffering and joy.  He makes all things new in the name of His Father and ours. Choose Life, he says. 

The Beatitudes are stepping stones in the path of Life. How can we make a Beatitudes retreat each Lenten day?  What other suggestions might work for you:

Happy are the poor in spirit, theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Fast from the culture which distracts us from God’s silent presence by turning off cell phones, TV or the internet. 

Happy are they who mourn.  Companion those who grieve – through death, hardship, personal situations.  Stand with the bereft, no need to offer advice.

Happy are the meek. Practice humility.  Lose an argument, delegate the decision, forgo the politically hostile tone.  But lose in love which is strength and which is in life.

Happy are those who hunger and thirst for justice. This one should be easy!  Educate yourself about an injustice which is occurring.  Then attend a demonstration or assist in a service project.

Happy are the merciful.  Forgive a debt.  Whether it involves money or an old grievance, offer clemency and compassion.

Happy are the clean of heart.  There is little room for God when our hearts are full of our own idols, dependences.  Make a down-to-earth assessment of compulsions blocking us from a relationship with God.  Be honest but merciful to yourself.  Like the Chosen People, begin to change course and turn your steps to the promised land.

Happy are the peacemakers.  Step in when a joke made at someone else’s expense is uttered or end an old argument, freely offering to break the ice.

Happy those who are persecuted and insulted because of Me.  When beliefs and religion – whether your own or others - are insulted, wage defense by the actions you take not the words you hurl back.  Choose Life, give life, by modeling Jesus even to persecutors.

No comments: