Choices. Every day we are faced with countless choices. What we choose and how we choose determines the course of our lives. There is tremendous power in our human ability to choose. At times choices determine the course of history. One choice can open up the way to life and another choice can result in death. For world leaders the choices that they make can have tremendous consequences for the future of their people. There is a tremendous amount of responsibility that goes along with freedom of choice. There is always a great hope among the people that their leaders will choose the good and consider the common good of all people.
The Wisdom writer speaks to us about our choices before God. “Before man are life and death, good and evil, whichever he chooses shall be given him.” (Sirach 15,17) Freedom is a gift and a natural right that is given to human persons. We have the freedom to determine the course of our lives, either for life or death, for good or evil. We have the power to shape our lives with our choices. The Catechism tells us, “God created man a rational being, conferring on him the dignity of a person who can initiate and control his own actions. “God willed that man should be ‘left in the hand of his own counsel,’ so that he might of his own accord seek his Creator and freely attain his full and blessed perfection by cleaving to him.” (CCC 1730) Freedom must be exercised with proper responsibility. “Freedom is the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not to act, to do this or that, and so to perform deliberate actions on one’s own responsibility. By free will one shapes one’s own life. Human freedom is a force for growth and maturity in truth and goodness; it attains its perfection when directed toward God, our beatitude.” (CCC 1731)
The Catechism also affirms that “The more one does what is good, the freer one becomes. There is no true freedom except in the service of what is good and just. The choice to disobey and do evil is an abuse of freedom and leads to “the slavery of sin.” (CCC 1733) Our Wisdom writer reminds us that, “No one does he command to act unjustly, to none does he give license to sin.” (Sirach 15,20) God is pro-choice, but that choice should be directed to life and to what is good and in accord with God’s will. God encourages us through his commandments to use our freedom properly and to perfect the gifts that he has given us by choosing life, truth and goodness. “I call heaven and earth today to witness against you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the Lord, your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him. For that will mean life for you, a long life for you to live on the land which the Lord swore he would give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” (Deut 30,19f) The commandments of God are always directed towards justice and goodness. God never commands us to act unjustly or to sin. To seek and choose the will of God in all things, to discern with the help of his Spirit what is God’s will helps us to grow in freedom. The Spirit of God “scrutinizes everything even the depths of God.” (1 Cor 2,10) Jesus leads us deeper into the commandments of God by revealing to us the true sense of God’s will to love and compassion that is the foundation of each commandment. Jesus counsels us, “But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 5,19) The law of Christ not only engages our rational mind but also our hearts.
The world might want to give you a license to sin and to choose indiscriminately without considering responsibility. God would never give you a license to sin but always encourages us to strive to be our best self and to perfect our freedom through responsible choice. Jesus teaches us to live the commandments in their deepest meaning, according to “the depths of God”. Choose life, choose good, choose to be God’s holy people and you will have an abundant and blessed life.