Take sides

7 February 2008 Thursday after Ash Wednesday
Deuteronomy 30, 15-20; Luke 9, 22-25

The Gospel and the first reading today challenge us to take sides, to choose: “Life and prosperity or death and doom.” We choose life if we obey God’s commandments. We choose death if we turn away our hearts and not listen to God, but instead, serve other gods.

God’s commandments preserve and promote life: it enjoins everyone to respect other people’s lives and property; it encourages us to love God and all He created like the environment that sustains earthly life. How? The Gospel tells us that promoting and preserving life constitutes selfless service — whoever loses His life for My sake, will save it.

On the other hand, those who turn away their hearts from God destroys life and property. When we murder another or damage goods, we devastate or end life. Poverty is caused by graft, corruption and greed. The deprivation of another’s land is the result of greed. Thus, the Gospel says that whoever is concerned solely about his life or that of his family, and disregards the welfare of the greater society will not be able to preserve life.

Many of us here at mass will choose the obvious: everyone would choose what promotes life. It is quite simple. Everyone will choose Superman over Lex Luthor; Batman over the Joker; the Jedi Knights over Darth Vader; Judy Ann’s Isabella over Coney Reyes’ Viktoria.

But our daily choices will betray whose side we are actually on. Our choices individuate and define us. We will know who we are from the choices we made in the past.

When you are asked to choose between studying for the next day’s exam and going out with your barkada to celebrate a birthday; your choice will tell us whether you are in the league of Clark Kent who has to let go of Lana so that he will be able to do what he is meant to be.

When you are made to choose between a farmers’ rally and a ribbon-cutting for the opening of GMA’s exhibit; your choice will tell us whether you are a Jedi Knight, protector of peace and justice in the Galactic Republic or a member of the greedy Trade Federation who cut off trade routes to the small planet of Naboo.

When you come to mass complete with a rosary, a breviary and a pious look, but maltreats yout maid, then you know to whom you actually belong.

At Lent we are ask to make a choice. There is no way to choose two. Only one choice will define who we are.

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