Once upon a time, a man was waiting to board a flight with his son when the little boy saw another child with a bar of chocolate and wanted his father to buy one for him. They had few minutes to board, and the man takes him to a nearby shop but tells him to choose the one he likes as they need to meet up with the boarding. For more than five minutes, the boy was running around picking one bar of chocolate and dropping it for another as each seems better than the others. When it was clear they were going to miss their flight if the boy continued to sway from one bar of chocolate to another, the man grabs the boy and drags him along despite his cries. The boy could not make a choice, but they had to catch their up with their flight.
The late former United Nation’s Secretary General, Kofi Annan, once said, “To live is to choose. But to choose well, you must know who you are and what you stand for, where you want to go and why you want to get there”. Choice-making characterizes life. You must choose to take a chance before your life could change; failure to make a choice is even a choice itself like in the case of the boy who wanted a bar of chocolate in our opening story.
In the First Reading today (Joshua 24:1-2; 15-18), Joshua challenges the Israelites at Shechem to make a choice of whom they wish to serve. By this convocation, we understand that God did not withhold the gift of free will from us even after the colossal disobedience of Adam and Eve (Gen.3:1-18). Joshua’s declaration tells us about God’s patience with us even when we are disobedient. Joshua’s narrative here shows us that God cares about us (Psalm 27:10) and He desires our salvation and gives us the opportunity to make reliable choices.
In the passage, Joshua makes his own choice first before giving the people the opportunity to respond. We could say that Joshua led the people by a personal example, his choice reads, “as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord!” (Joshua 24:15). The effect of his choice is evident in the people’s response: “Far be it from us to forsake the Lord, for the service of other gods. For it was the Lord, our God, who brought us and our fathers up out of Egypt, out of a state of slavery”. (Joshua 24:16,18).
In the Gospel Reading today (John 6:60-69), our Lord Jesus Christ wraps up his teaching on the Eucharist by challenging his hearers to choose to accept his doctrine that leads to life or leave it for a damnable fate. Like Joshua, he takes time to explain to them why they need to make a choice and where it would lead them. As a matter of choice, many people could not accept his teaching and left him.
In the Second Reading (Eph.5:21-32), St. Paul extends the gospel of choice- making to the family. Love and submission are the choices we make, and there is no better foundation for choice-making than in our families. Marriage and family life would become what we choose to sow as seeds. When you sow love, you reap love, but if you sow hatred you reap it as a fruit and the same happens with submission. There is every truth in the saying that “you cannot eat your cake and have it.” You cannot wish for a delightful family when you cannot add positive value. A good family is a choice you make jointly as members.
Moving Forward: Choose Between The New Way and The Former Way
The same invitation to make a choice is open to us today. We hear people say, “it is a free world,” that is true. However, we are also invited to make responsible choices in the so-called free world as our choices determine our chances and the changes we experience in life. When Jesus Christ challenged the apostles to choose as the other people were leaving him and going back to their former way of life, Peter replying on behalf of others says, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life”.
In the First Reading and the Gospel, Joshua and our Lord Jesus Christ propose new ways to their respective audiences while leaving them to choose. Change, like this reflection indicated earlier, is a consequence of choice-making. Our undue attachments to various ways of living often make it difficult for us to accept some new and helpful realities that life open for us. Albert Einstein did define insanity as doing the same thing the same way all the time and expecting a different result.
We have come to the season of responsible choice-making. There is the need for us to remember that whenever we make a choice, we also choose the consequences. There are many options in life, but we need to go for the optimal option. What choice would you be making today in your personal life, in your family, in your relationship with others, and ultimately in your Christian life journey with God? Would you like Peter, and the others make the right, and responsible choice by sticking with the Lord who has the message of eternal life and without whom no option is tenable. Have a beautiful Sunday and a pleasant week ahead as you choose wisely and responsibly.