“Decide today!” Joshua put the cards on the table. The decision he set before his people regarded whether or not they would serve the living and true God. Joshua had chosen the Lord for himself. He would serve no other God. The decision Joshua set before his people is one that each of us has to make.
“Decide today!” St. Paul speaks of two decisions in his letter to the Ephesians. One, decide on the quality of your relationship in marriage. Will it be one of love and mutual respect, or one of superiority? The other decision regarded Christ and the church. As members of the body of Christ, will we embrace the mystery of Jesus’ lordship or will we seek a deadly autonomy? Both of these decisions involve significant relationships.
“Decide today!” The disciples found Jesus’ sayings most difficult. They could not comprehend how Jesus could give himself so totally to them or to others. They were shocked; they murmured. And, many made a decision: They “returned to their former way of life.” They were unable to put into practice a faith that demanded a total response.
Freedom is a gift and a responsibility. We have to decide how we will allocate our limited time. We have to choose to sustain or terminate a relationship, to continue or discontinue certain habits, to grow or not to grow in our faith, hope and love. Though at times our freedom is limited, even constrained, there are many areas and dimensions of our life that demand concrete decisions. Flight from responsibility is flight from our humanity.
Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist living under Hitler’s regime, made a decision to use his resources to help the Jewish people escape from being sent to concentration camps. Albert Schweitzer left his native Germany with wife and child and served the poor in central Africa for more than 50 years. Mohandas K. Gandhi, the Hindu, chose a nonviolent philosophy to liberate his people from British domination. God’s grace helped these individuals to respond to God’s will, whatever the cost.
All of these decisions pointed toward life, love and light. It was as if God broke into their lives at a particular moment and said: “Decide today how you are going to respond to the needs of others.” Whatever our circumstances, God addresses us daily to decide between life and death, love and hate, light and darkness.
It may seem strange that a gift contains the burden of responsibility. Yet, that is the way our lives are constructed. If our gifts, especially freedom, are used well, peace will come upon us. If graces are used selfishly, peace will vanish.
Questions for reflection
1. What was the hardest decision you ever made?
2. What was the best decision you ever made?
3. What is your decision-making process?
Bishop Morneau is the auxiliary bishop of the Green Bay Diocese and pastor of Resurrection Parish in Allouez