Moses said to the people: ‘See, today I set before you life and prosperity, death and disaster. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I enjoin on you today, if you love the Lord your God and follow his ways, if you keep his commandments, his laws, his customs, you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you are entering to make your own. But if your heart strays, if you refuse to listen, if you let yourself be drawn into worshipping other gods and serving them, I tell you today, you will most certainly perish; you will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today: I set before you life or death, blessing or curse. Choose life, then, so that you and your descendants may live, in the love of the Lord your God, obeying his voice, clinging to him; for in this your life consists, and on this depends your long stay in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob he would give them.’
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘The Son of Man is destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes and to be put to death, and to be raised up on the third day.’
Then to all he said, ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, that man will save it. What gain, then, is it for a man to have won the whole world and to have lost or ruined his very self?’
See, today I set before you life and prosperity, death and disaster
While I was in training to become a financial planner, I met a former insurance agent who shared with me, like in all industries, there are people who used unethical and illegal means to achieve their goals. He said: Sure they may have won accolades and recognition, but the most important thing is, can they sleep at night?
Today’s first reading is one of my favourites in the entire bible. To me, it is the one passage that shows me that God gives us free will, and it is a matter of life and death. He sets before the people of Israel (and us) two choices: life and prosperity if we obey Him, and death and disaster if we disobey Him. He entreats us to choose life, but He gives us the choice.
In the gospel reading, Jesus does the same thing: He gives His disciples the choice of free will and, again, it is a matter of life and death. But like everything else Jesus does in the gospels, this choice is also a matter of spiritual life and death.
Sometimes as I do my work, I find myself having to make difficult choices. I am blessed with rigidity especially when it comes to ethics. I refuse to do what’s unethical, but that doesn’t make my life easy. I don’t complain because I can sleep at night.
It is my personal observation that working in the secular world is easier than working in church when it comes to making such choices. Professionally, the choices are more black and white. What’s ethical and what’s unethical is easy to see, although that doesn’t make making the choices easier.
In theory if our conscience is formed by the teachings of the church, then we can trust our conscience to decide if something is ethical or not. In practice, even those who are supposed to be well formed by the teachings of the church don’t live up to what they preach. Well-meaning people keep telling me, “The church is made up out of sinners.”
After spending so much time learning about church teachings, I am at a stage where I think that if I can apply just a fraction of what I have learnt to my daily life, it will be good enough. This is incorrect. We are called to apply all of the church’s teachings in our life. It may appear to be difficult but certainly should not be any barrier towards us trying to live out the life. So in the course of my work, when faced with choices, I simply ask myself: If I do this, will I be able to sleep tonight? If yes, I am choosing life. If no, I am choosing death.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Daniel Tay)
Prayer: We pray for all people holding positions of power the people in positions of power.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks to the Lord for ethics.