We are all too often attracted to what feels good in the moment, even when we know the consequences will not be good. St Ignatius, during his lengthy convalescence after his leg was shattered in a battle at Pamplona, noticed that he was drawn alternately to daydreaming about things he would do to win worldly fame and fortune, and then to the things he would do to imitate the saints and to serve God. Both sets of daydreams brought him pleasure at the time but after a time he noticed that it was the second set that left him consoled with a deep sense of joy and peace. This was the beginning of his understanding that God speaks to us through our feelings and our imaginations and that we can discover what God’s desires for us are. Those desires will always be for us to experience life in abundance.
But this is not always easy to do. As we see in the Gospel text today Jesus chose to see his vocation through. In the short term that faithfulness meant his torture and death. Ultimately he was choosing life for all of us. Sometimes it is obvious that some choices are good and others sinful. At other times we may have to choose between two objectively good things and so we need to pray and discern. We have to sift our experience noticing which of these two options brings the deepest and most sustained experience of peace. Choosing life is also about choosing to respond in ways that lead to a deepening of faith, hope and love.
Though we often make poor choices, God repeatedly offers us the opportunity to choose life. Lent is a season of new beginnings. If we allow ourselves to look with God at our lives we will see which aspects are stale or stuck, where we are living shallowly, distracted by trivialities, and where we are acting in ways that undermine or devalue others. And then we can choose. We can choose with God’s help and grace to make a different choice, hopefully, to choose life.