The choice is yours to make.
Which do you like better, a foot of snow or endless rain? People always have strong feelings about their choice even though it really doesn’t matter which you like or don’t like. We’re all going to get what’s coming our way regardless.
But it’s surprisingly easy for people to choose one or the other. And in fact, the ability to choose seems to be one of our signature characteristics as human beings. We love to choose. And here in the U.S., the options we have to choose from are staggering. Just go to the store to buy some bread and you are presented with so many options! Contrast that with many places in the world where the choice is between bread and no bread. We certainly live in a land of abundant choices.
In the Bible, we learn that the gift of choosing, of free will, is actually a part of God’s great plan for us. God wants us to love him fully and freely and so we’ve been given the gift to choose. God will not coerce us or make us love him because that is not true love. True love is freely given. And so we have been given the gift of choice so we can choose to love him on our own. God will invite and entice and encourage us in many ways; however, in the end we are the ones who choose.
But there is a problem with our choosing. We often choose wrong. In fact, from the very first people, we have this tendency to make the wrong choice. God made it very clear to Adam and Eve that they could eat from any of the trees in the Garden but one. Sadly, they chose to eat the fruit on the forbidden tree and had to face the consequences. Certainly, the serpent encouraged them but in the end they made the wrong choice and they were cast out of the Garden of Eden.
Maybe St. Paul says it best in Roman 7:15, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate!” And 7:19, “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.” As the children of Adam and Eve, all of us share in that tendency to choose wrong. As clear as God can be about how he would like us to live, we so often choose the wrong way. We might come up with all sorts of reasons to justify our choices but they are still wrong.
But as hard as that is to admit, there is a solution. And that is to choose again. Jesus came to show us a better way and as we model our lives after him we learn how to make better choices. And every new day provides us with opportunities to choose again – to choose to love. So choose to love God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. So choose to love all your neighbors as yourself. This is what God passionately wants you to do. But the choice is yours to make.
Mathew Weisbeck is the pastoral associate at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.