Readings and Reflection for March 3 (Thursday after Ash Wednesday)

Assumption University

A Delightful Lenten Journey

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It’s my choice!

An American was visiting Japan. She entered a restaurant and ordered green tea with sugar. The waiter said: “You cannot put sugar in green tea.” The American replied, “I know it is the custom in your country, but I would like to have sugar in my green tea. That is my choice.” The waiter repeated the same answer louder: “You cannot put sugar in green tea.” The American persisted in her request: “I am a customer and I have the right to do whatever I want with my tea.” The waiter ran to report the matter to the manager. The latter came without delay and said: “I am very sorry. We don’t have any more sugar.” The American said to herself: “I cannot drink green tea without sugar but I could with a coffee.” She changed her choice and ordered a coffee. The waiter brought it promptly to her. The woman was surprised to find a sugar packet in the saucer!

Choice and its consequences

Usually, we think that we can choose whatever we want. It is our right to make our own choice. We forget, however, that there are consequences that accompany our choices. Sometimes, we make a choice with a good intention, but it turns out that its consequences are very bad. That is to say, our good intention is not enough. We need to make choices out of conviction, but at the same time, we need to foresee their consequences.

Choice and life

In the first reading, Moses said to the people: “I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live.” If we want to live, we need to choose life and the conditions that allow it to develop. If we want to be with the author of life, we have to follow his ways. And then we can enjoy true prosperity. He wills nothing but our happiness. He commits himself to assure our well-being.

Choice and sacrifice

In the Gospel, Jesus offers us a more radical choice. Instead of promising false happiness, he leads us to face reality. For him, denying oneself is the condition of real love. Loving and following someone means going out of oneself to listen to the desires of that person. This exodus brings with it renunciation and pain. It requires self-sacrifice. No one can really love another person while staying the same in his own little world. He needs to go out of himself and this exodus in itself is the cause of suffering. But one cannot gain access to authentic love without passing through it.

By denying ourselves, we let God transform us into the person he wants us to be. It is the real choice that we need to make if we want to be Jesus’ disciples. We need to lose our own idea about ourselves in order to become who we were created to be. Our free choice is not a decision against God. It is our collaboration with God to realize his desire for us. After all, how can we become ourselves if we go against the one who made us in his own image?

Prayer: God of life, help us to make the choices that allow us to come closer to your image.

Resolution: Think about a wrong choice that I made and write down what I can learn from it.