“I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life.”

Deuteronomy 30:19

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Deuteronomy 30:15-19

Human beings have the ability to make choices. While capable of the worst, human beings are also capable of rising above themselves and adversary to start again. This requires that we take a critical and honest look at ourselves and name what needs to change. God’s grace is at work in our hearts and, when we are open to God, we are invited to see where change and conversion are necessary.

We live in an era where rampant consumerism has become a way of life. We have allowed the economy, the markets, to draw us into a vortex of buying and spending. In Laudato Si’ Pope Francis says that this results in people becoming self-centred and self-enclosed, which means that greed increases (#204). “The emptier a person’s heart is, the more he or she needs to buy, own and consume. It becomes almost impossible to accept the limits imposed by reality.” 

This worldview begins to erode the common good and social norms are only accepted if they support personal needs. Pope Francis says that an obsession with a consumerist lifestyle, which few people can actually sustain, can only lead to violence and mutual destruction. 

In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses encourages the people to choose life. He wants them to look beyond where they are now – dispersed among the nations and wandering in the desert – towards their eventual flourishing. Moses urges them to choose what is for their greater good – life – instead of what would turn them in on themselves, make them selfish and lead to their misery – death.

We are challenged to choose life. We do this when we reject the culture of consumerism that subtly tells us that we are what we have, what we can buy. We choose life when our patterns of consumption are discerning, when we are conscious of the effect that we have on other people and the natural world. 

Take time today to consider your attitude to our consumer culture. What are your priorities? Where can you choose life more wholeheartedly and reduce your impact on others and the natural world? Can you buy less?

Loving God,

Many voices beg my attention every day. Some do not help me to choose life. Grace me with the ability to hear your voice, calling me to life by challenging my consumerist attitudes. Make me more aware of the impact of what I do on others and the natural world.


Fr Russell Pollitt SJ

Fr Russell Pollitt SJ is the Director of the Jesuit Institute and is interested in the impact that communications technology has on society and spirituality. He regularly comments on South African Politics and various issues in the Catholic Church.

director@jesuitinstitute.org.za @rpollittsj
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