Choices

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

The other day, I was reading one of those emails that friends send because they find it inspiring. Am I the only person who is amazed at the volume of this kind of stuff that is circulating out there? Anyway, I do not always choose to read these types of emails – sometimes a time thing or a mood thing or a need to feel the tiny satisfaction of pressing the delete button. But I read this one.

It was about a man who was always positive – never did he seem to have a bad day or a lousy reaction to circumstances in his life. Now, this always “up” attitude both amazed and bothered others! And finally, one friend approached the man and asked him how he could be so un-bothered by life’s challenging
moments.

The explanation given was thoughtful and insightful. The man said he had arrived at a point in his life where he realized that everything is about choice. Though one cannot control everything that happens, one does have a choice as to how to respond. He decided that he would look for the positive in whatever happened and choose to focus on that. He explained that he knew there were a lot of problems and issues in his life and in the world, and he was not ignoring them; rather he was choosing to live through them finding the good that he is certain is within each moment.

It sounds so simple – maybe even naïve! Yet as I ponder the story, I see some similarities in myself. More often than not, I react to a moment without really, consciously, choosing how I wish to respond. My reaction can draw me in a direction that is not positive for others or me. It is that extra moment of conscious awareness to recognize what is happening and deliberately choose how I wish to respond. That, for me, is the element I often by-pass.

One evening, in a conversation with a group of young adults, a discussion arose about the intensity of their fast-paced, time pressured, scripted lives and the
tension and stress they felt because they had very limited available time. The same holds true for many parents. Often they speak of the hectic pace of daily life where children have so many activities and commitments that a typical calendar is crammed with appointments and “to-do’s”, hanging on to the refrigerator door – by a thread.

I wonder why we choose to live with such intensity? Or perhaps we forget that we can make some different choices? The truth is that there will always be more to do. So we need to carve out time for what is essential which takes priority over what is necessary.

There is a beautiful scene from the Old Testament where God tells Moses to go to the people and invite them to make a choice: “Today I set before you, life and death – to whichever you stretch out your hand – you will have”. Every new day, even before we put our feet on the floor, we have a choice of how we wish to live that day – in a life- giving way or not. No one else can make that choice for us – it is ours alone to make.

God is very clear on how we should live each day: choosing life – a life that is more in balance. Choose a life in which we can appreciate the gifts with which we have been blessed – family, creation, a deeper relationship with God; a life in which we are not so overwhelmed that we forget to treat others and ourselves with respect, patience, kindness, humor. and love. Indeed, that is precisely how God treats you and me every day – maybe we should make the same choice.

Fr. Ronan

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
February 12/13, 2022

The prophet Jeremiah minces no words in today’s first reading:
“Thus says the LORD: Cursed is the one who trusts in human beings … whose heart turns away from the LORD.”
And the prophet’s “beatitude” resembles that of Jesus’ teaching in today’s Gospel reading when he proclaims:
“Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose hope is the LORD.”
Good stewards understand that what the world values is not consistent with Gospel values.
They realize that God has placed in their midst all the gifts, charisms, and resources needed
to bring Christ to a world desperately in need of his loving presence.
But to exercise good stewardship over God’s gifts takes a great deal of trust.
How does our stewardship reflect our trust in the Lord?
What did we do today to give others hope in Christ Jesus?