Choose Life, That You May Live, Dt. 30:19

God also gave us the gifts of intellect, memory, and conscience.

“Moses said to the people: ‘Today I have set before you life and prosperity, death and doom…Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the Lord, your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him’” (Dt. 30:15-20). At the heart of these words, we come face to face with the great paradox of our humanity, that is, the God-given gift of free will, its use, and its consequences.

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God also gave us the gifts of intellect, memory, and conscience. With intellect, we are capable of coming to know what is really good and what is really bad, as well as to develop the capacity to consider and to reflect upon the real and possible consequences of our choices. Memory stores our experiences, both the good and the bad and we can draw on it to learn from our successes and our failures. The conscience is our built-in instinct and desire for the good. The gift of free will does not exist in a vacuum. It has an equally real and powerful challenger, that is, responsibility. When we willingly use our free will in conjunction with the will of God, he gives us the graces to become great saints. If we use our precious free will in willful defiance of God’s will, we turn ourselves into great sinners.

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The scriptures are the greatest resource for coming to know the difference between the real moral good and its opposite, evil. As an example, the scripture passage above confronts us with the reality of free choice and its logical, natural consequences not just for us, but for the world we live in as well. The Gospels, too, offer us glimpses into this paradox of our humanity. For example, we see in Matthew 19:21 that it is in willingly choosing to “sell everything, to give the money to the poor” and then to choose to humbly “follow Jesus”, that we are finally able to find the true joy that our hearts desire. Finally, we are confronted with the ultimate truth: It is in our willing submission to the will of God that we find our truest freedom.

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We are all challenged to ask the ultimate question of ourselves: Am I choosing life in Christ more and more consistently, or am I choosing death? Whichever we are choosing God has promised we will be given. Sirach 15:17

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