Choices We Make
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

On my wall hangs a sign that has been there when I took over the office, “Life is a choice, choose well.” To be more particular about it, life is a series of choices, some big and some small. Our life is the result of the choices we make. We are responsible for the direction of our life.

Action starter: Make your choice now.

There is a story about a painter who was looking for a model of a young man who is Christ-like, one who exudes life in a state of grace. He found his model and he painted him. A few years later, he was searching for another model. He was looking for a man who shows the face of a sinner and is damned in hell. Going through the crime-laden section of the city streets he finally found a man who was willing to pose for a fee. During the sessions the man gave the painter some bits and pieces of his life of crime. When the painting was done, the man turned to the painter with tears in his eyes and told him. “I was the young man you painted years ago.”

Our choices make us what we are. We therefore have to be deliberate well on important matters . Nothing could be more important than the choice to follow Christ. This was the point that Jesus was making with His disciples in this Sunday’s Gospel, He told them two parables. When one decides to build a tower he must first make sure he has the resources to finish it, otherwise people will make fun of him when he leaves behind a half-completed structure. The second parable is about a king about to make war on another. According to the rules of the day, the antagonists may negotiate on terms peace before the battle begins. If a ruler sees that he cannot win the war, he can negotiate for the lives of his people, rather than the city be wiped out.

When one claims to be a disciple of Jesus, he must face the consequences of discipleship, “Those who do not carry their own cross and come after me cannot be my disciples” (Lk. 14:27). Jesus becomes the ultimate standard. He becomes number one. Everything else takes second place – our loved ones, our families, even our own life. The challenge is clearly stated, “Those who come to me cannot be my disciples unless they love me more than they love father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and themselves as well” (v.26).

Among some of our evangelical brothers and sisters, to be “born again” refers to the moment when they made the decision to commit their lives to Christ. Those who have been baptized in their adult years and who have gone through the process of instructions as catechumens know fully well the consequences of their baptism. Many of us who have been baptized as infants and received confirmation as teenagers may have to look more deeply into the state of our discipleship and its serious consequences. For this reason, the Church provides us with the ritual of renewal of baptismal promises at the Easter liturgy. In this annual rite, we confirm our choice to follow Christ.

There can be a beautiful ending to our earlier story of the painter and his model. It is not too late for the sinner. As long as he lives he can make a choice to go back to Jesus. He may have lost his innocence by his life of sin but he can recover his life in grace. All he needs to do is say, “Lord Jesus, have mercy on me a sinner.” Jesus forgives. He may no longer be the innocent young man. Nor is he the sinner damned in hell. He is the disciple who is sinner-yet-forgiven.