Daily Advent Reflection
The College of New Rochelle
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Martha Counihan, OSU
Today’s first reading from the book of Deuteronomy sets forth a “life lesson” in no uncertain terms: Moses warns the people of the choices one must make in order to walk in the ways of God.
“I set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then.” This oft-quoted text is sometimes used to publicly denounce opponents to one’s beliefs, often in a self-righteous way. Personally, I enjoy taking a broad view about what it means to choose life. Rather than focusing on a string of commands, threats, and laws, I like to look on the sunlit side of this advice from Moses. What does it mean to choose life? Happiness, health, relationships. The prophet’s advice: “If, however, you turn away you hearts and will not listen...tragedy will follow. Moses is telling us to follow our hearts, to choose to live in concord and to pursue a happy and peace-filled life. “For that will mean life for you.”
The theme of choosing to follow a good life is taken up in Psalm 1. Those who hope in the Lord and follow the path of goodness will, like the tree planted near running water, bear fruit.
The gospel of this first day after Ash Wednesday announces the bare truth of Jesus’ life: He will be killed and he will rise. Those who follow Jesus are warned that following Jesus will also entail suffering and death, but “whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” This annual journey of Lent is a time of reflection on life and death and resurrection. In the course of the year, if we think back about it, most of us have had moments of experiencing life and death; this is the season to contemplate the resurrection of Jesus and my own eventual resurrection.