This morning’s gospel has Moses setting before the Israelites the commandments of the Lord (DT 30:15-20), essentially a plan that will lead to life if followed. If, however, the people choose to “turn away your hearts and will not listen” they will certainly perish. It seems like a very clear-cut choice – for them and for us – but knowing the complexity of life, the frailty of the human will and the tender mercy of our God I look at this message in a much more developmental way.
When I was young one of the most comforting concepts that I learned in a basic theology course was that of “the fundamental option.” The crux of that theory is that once we make a decision toward God and begin to live a life in concert with God’s ways as we come to know them, it is difficult to commit a mortal/deadly sin. I have remembered that concept in my moments of failure and although I admit to not listening as well as I could, I always trust that my heart belongs to God. I do know, however, that making sure my heart is always turned toward God is never a question of “resting on my laurels” but rather a continual effort toward opening and listening to what draws me closer to the heart of God.
In summary then, Moses urges the people to “Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the Lord, your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him.” As I write that, another memory stream from long ago brings to mind what to me sounds like a call to throw caution to the winds in my loving.
Choose life! Only this and always and at whatever risk…