Feb 18, 2020
If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you;
if you trust in God, you too shall live. He has set before you fire and water
to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand.
Before man are life and death, good and evil,
whichever he chooses shall be given him. (Sir15:15-16)
I like the way that Sirach phrases our involvement in our eternal life. The way of life or death is chosen by us and God gives us what we choose. Going to hell is not a matter of punishment because we have done bad things, instead it is the consequence of our choices. I do not think God is asking perfection from us as we attempt to keep his commandments. In the daily readings of the past week we read about King David and his utterly evil action of taking another man’s wife for himself and then having the man murdered by his general during a battle. Even though David goes that far off from God’s commandments, his heart is still turned toward the Lord. When he is confronted by prophetic witness David turns to God and begs his pardon, and God gives it to him.
I believe Sirach is more concerned about our consistent choices with our thoughts words and actions. “To whatever you choose stretch forth your hand -whichever he chooses will be given to him.” Sirach goes on to tell us: “No one does he command to act unjustly, to none does he give license to sin.” God gives us the freedom to choose where we want our lives to go; there is no compulsion either negatively or positively. I suppose you could say the idea of life eternal is an important goal for many of us, yet it is not a compulsion.
In this modern era the idea of eternal life seems to be clouded. At so many funerals the speaker giving the eulogy is more often concerned about what the person did than where the person has gone. I have written about this before but there is the one cremation commercial where the woman tells us that she wants her life celebrated at her death. But if that is all there is how sad for us. We must keep in front of us the life we are moving toward, not only for ourselves but our children as well. It is that future that should dictate our choices.