Reflection for the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
Rev. Fr. Bonnie Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.
In the morning, you choose whether to wake up from the left or the right, Depending on the position of your bed. Someone jokingly remarked, “if you find out that you woke up from the left side, go back to your bed and wake up from the right side.” As funny as it may sound, that is a powerful lesson about choice-making. In life, you are as good or bad as your choices because every choice has a consequence or consequences.
The First Reading of this Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Sirach 15:15-20) invites us to the foreground of choice-making when the writer says, among other things, that God “has set before you fire and water; to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand. Before man are life and death, good and evil, whichever he chooses shall be given him”.
The basis of choice-making is freedom which God gifted us from the creation of humanity. A closer study of the earlier chapters of the Book of Genesis gives us access to the origins and dimensions of choice-making. We shall examine these closely, relate them to the Readings and apply them to our Christian vocation.
You are free to eat from all the trees in the Garden, but not the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16-17)
There are two important words in these verses: “free” and “but.” God told Adam to choose freely whatever he wanted to eat; however, eating the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would be a choice with a bad consequence, death.
It is instructive that the first choice ever opened to humanity was about eating. We eat to live, but often, people get sick and die because of what they choose to eat; your health is on your plate is an instructive statement.
However, eating here is not reducible to physical food, as some people may think; the soul and spirit also eat when we feed them with the choices we make through our words and actions.
Whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name (Genesis 2:19)
This statement came after God formed living creatures from the ground to enable Adam to find a suitable helper. Here we encounter an expression of the gift of choice. The man was free to call each creature whatever he wanted; in fact, the concluding part of that passage says: “whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.”
Except for a few people, most of us bear the names we got from our parents. They chose what to call us when we were infants. We go through life naming things, and oftentimes, what we choose to call a thing becomes our reality.
Sin is a Choice
One common default mode most people assume is to blame the devil when they sin. The devil only tempts us; we freely choose to yield or not depending on the strength of our will and spirit, so sin is the result of a bad choice, not the devil.
If you look closely at the events that preceded the first sin of disobedience (Genesis 3), you will notice that the serpent made sure that the woman freely chose to take the fruit herself and eat. She could have refrained from taking and eating if she chose. The same thing happened to Adam; he also chose to take and eat the fruit from Eve.
Keeping the Commandments is a Choice
The Gospel Reading (Matthew 5:17-37) is the third section of the series of sermons on the mount. Here our Lord Jesus Christ presents a revised version of some of the commandments by inserting some practical commentaries.
Summarily, Jesus indicated that keeping or not keeping the commandment and teaching others to do so is a choice with enormous kingdom consequences:
- Murder is a bad choice, but it is not restricted to shedding blood. It begins with what we choose to say to others, especially in anger. The tongue can kill.
- Adultery is a bad choice but is not restricted to act itself. It begins with what you choose to feed your mind through the senses; for instance, watching pornography feeds the mind negatively.
- Divorce is a choice, but dealing with the issues that could lead to it is a more profitable choice.
- Speaking the truth is a better choice than swearing in the name of God or anything.
Forward: Make Choices, But Check the Consequences
Recent research shows that an average adult makes about 35 000 decisions daily, including every action throughout the day. We gain or lose from the choices we make because of the consequences they bring.
The best demonstration of wisdom can be found in the foreground of the choices we make in life. So, the wise person considers the consequences before making a choice, not immediate gratification.
As we continue our faith journey, may we be conscious of our choices because their consequences may make or break us. Choose wisely what to feed your soul and your spirit. Choose carefully what you declare into your life; they could become your reality.
The Responsorial Psalm gives us a key where it says: Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord! That is a choice right there. God bless you.