Life is full of choices. Most of us in this country are blessed to have the luxury to choose what our lives look like, who we marry, what job to have, what religion to practice. The lucky of us choose what we eat, how we spend our time and how to spend our money. But there are times when the very ability to choose may lead us astray and in these cases our holy church mercifully tells us what choice is the one Jesus would make.
For example, it demands that we choose to promote and respect human life. We are required, as Catholic Christians, to choose life. Recently a friend of mine elected to have some routine pregnancy screenings. She was told that her baby had a diagnosis that will require a lifetime of care and potential medical problems. She was given the choice to end her pregnancy. My friend said, “I wish I hadn’t been given the choice. I wish they just would have laid the baby on my chest and taken the choice away.” The choice to parent a special needs child has broken her. (While still grieving, she is keeping the baby.) You and I know that in choosing life, God will put those pieces back together but the burden of even thinking she had a say in that decision will always haunt her. I do not judge her one bit for her agony. But I am thankful for a Church teaching that doesn’t offer me the choice her doctors gave her.
I think of my newborn son, Timothy. We found out we were pregnant with him when his brother Thomas was just 5 months old. Later we would find out that Thomas has health concerns. I stared at my little Timothy the other day and cried tears of joy that we practice a faith that asks us to be open to life. Because if given a choice, I am sure we would have thought that 5 months into our second child’s life was not the right time to have another child. And had we waited until Thomas’s diagnosis, surely we would not have chosen to have another child amidst such uncertainty and fear. Following church teaching to be open to life gave us our second son, the most joyful, happy 3 month old you will ever see.
The responsorial psalm today reads, “If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” Some of us are in a season where we are trusting the Lord in accepting a life for whom we may not think ourselves prepared. Others of us may be in a season where we are asked to hear his voice in respecting and promoting life in other ways. Blessed Pope John Paul II’s Evangelium Vitae says:
As explicitly formulated, the precept “You shall not kill” is strongly negative: it indicates the extreme limit which can never be exceeded. Implicitly, however, it encourages a positive attitude of absolute respect for life; it leads to the promotion of life and to progress along the way of a love which gives, receives and serves.
Today His voice may ask you to give some change to the man on the interstate ramp. It may ask you to look in his eyes and withhold any judgment on how he may spend your money. Today His voice may ask you to invite an elderly woman from daily Mass out to lunch, dignifying her life with the respect due our elders. Tomorrow His voice may ask you to donate to someone’s adoption fund or mission trip. His voice may ask you to help bathe a patient in a nursing home or to volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center. Or maybe His voice just tells you to choose life by loving the person seated next to you right now.
Whatever it may be, Hear his voice today. No doubt He is speaking to all of us. May we not harden our hearts to whichever life He is asking us to love.