“I have set before you life and death… choose life that you and your descendants may live.”

Deuteronomy 30:19

Thursday, 18 February 2021

Deuteronomy 30:15-20

The power of choice. That is what the Scriptures invite us to reflect upon today. Moses tells the people that their choices end in life or death. He tells them that if they choose right they – and those around them – will live prosperous lives. If they don’t, they will die. We make choices every day. We too choose life or death.

Choosing what is right and good and life-giving is not always easy. There is always a sacrifice to be made when we choose. Choice in itself implies saying yes to one thing and no to others. There is always the temptation to want not to be affected or have to sacrifice when faced with choices. We are invited to choose what is right, just and fair, even if we think we might get more personal benefit from another choice. Our benefit (or not having to sacrifice!) is never a good guide when faced with choice. Jesus warns us: “What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose themselves?” (Luke 22:25). Short term benefit is not necessarily the long term benefit for us and those around us.

Often, we find ourselves in challenging situations because of the choices we have made. Relationships are wounded; we suffer loss and alienation because we have made decisions that affected the relationship. Moses tells us that our choices have consequences.

But some of the situations we find ourselves in, we did not choose. The tilted structures of life or the bad choices of others leave us in a challenging space. We find ourselves in places that are tough to bear; some we do not want to endure. Maybe Moses felt that God had given him a responsibility that he did not choose, that he did not want. Yet, despite that, Moses chooses to be disciplined and courageous and enter into what he did not want. Moses recognises that even in what he did not choose, he still has a choice: how to live as best he can in that space, how to choose life and not death.

Ask yourself today: How will I consciously become aware of the fact that each day I have the power to choose? I can choose what is right. I can choose how best to live in a challenging situation. I can choose life over death. You might also ponder what challenging choice you need to make at this time in your life. What would it look like to choose life? What would it look like to choose death? 


In this time of Lent, help me to come to know you more clearly, love you more dearly and follow you more nearly.


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
See more from Russell Pollitt SJ
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