“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”
Moses asked his followers to choose between “Life and Prosperity, Death and Doom.” We would think that this should be an easy choice to make. Who would want to choose Death and Doom?
Yet, today, people all around us are choosing Death and Doom. There is so much hatred in their hearts that they are convinced that the only answer to the world’s problems is by putting to death all of their enemies. They are so convinced of this that some even sacrifice themselves by choosing Death as they take away someone else’s life.
There are no winners when we choose Death. They think that killing off their enemy, cutting themselves off from people who do not like them or disagree with them or displease them will result in the ideal society. Thus, they would create a society that would respect only their values, their vision of the future and their way of life.
Killing another human being degrades the whole human race. It does not purify the human race, it dehumanizes it. To kill another human being, one needs raw power and instruments of death. Some people think that the more they surround themselves with destructive armaments, such as guns, weapons of mass destruction, armies of killers, then they can impose their will on others.
Where does all of this hatred come from? It comes from the heart. We may want to make excuses that we have a right to our anger, a right to our hatred. After all, we have been hated and disrespected for years, maybe even centuries. We may think, it is now our turn to bring Death and Doom to those who have beat us down, enslaved us and even killed our family and friends. We say, it is only right that we have our chance to give others what they have done to us.
Yet history, especially Salvation History, teaches us that choosing Death and Doom will never bring about New Life, Peace and Prosperity.
Lent demands that we examine ourselves as individuals and as people. It invites us to explore what is present in the innermost recesses of our heart. Is it Hatred or Love? Is it Death and Doom or Life and Prosperity? Is it a commitment to choose Life and Prosperity despite of the culture of death that surrounds us? Or do we find that in the innermost depths of our hearts there is a conflict between hate and love, death and life?
Lent teaches us that we cannot live in both worlds, the world that tries to correct human behavior by violent methods of discipline, including killing the other for the sake of justice, or killing the other because our property is being stolen. I do hear the voices in religion class asking the “what if” questions. We cannot get to the trick questions about what is permissible and what is not without making a fundamental option to choose Life, to choose Love.
Moses says, “Choose Life, then by loving the Lord, your God, heeding his voice and holding fast to him.”
Jesus says, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit him?”
Who are we going to listen to?
During our Lenten Journey, let us choose Life and Prosperity with God’s help!
Fr. Clemente Barrón, C.P. is a member of Immaculate Conception Community in Chicago, Illinois.