Posted by: Thomas Richard | April 7, 2018

The Choice

St. Augustine saw it clearly, a long time ago (in the AD 400’s) that ultimately there are two options in this world, and only two. There are two cities – two cultures – two lives to choose from: one is for life, the other for death. A man can be for life, or he can be for death. A woman can be for life, or she can be for death. A medical doctor can be for life, or for death. A soldier can be for life, or for death. A political leader can be for life, or for death. A preacher, a policeman, a priest, a politician, a bishop, a banker, a candlestick maker, a monk or a money changer can be for life, or he can be for death. The older I get (a journey that keeps accelerating in pace, faster and faster as the days go by…), the simpler I see that life actually is. The choices all come down, when the dust settles, to one of two: are you for life, or are you for death?

St. Augustine’s insightful words deserve repeating, and pondering:

Accordingly, two cities have been formed by two loves: the earthly by the love of self, even to the contempt of God; the heavenly by the love of God, even to the contempt of self. The former, in a word, glories in itself, the latter in the Lord. For the one seeks glory from men; but the greatest glory of the other is God, the witness of conscience. … In the one, the princes and the nations it subdues are ruled by the love of ruling; in the other, the princes and the subjects serve one another in love, the latter obeying, while the former take thought for all. ….
(Augustine, The City of God, Book XIV, Chapter 28: Of the Nature of the Two Cities, the Earthly and the Heavenly)

St. Augustine points straight and simply to the one single difference that makes all the difference, ultimately: what is loved, finally, in the center – the heart of the human person? What is the guiding intention in the heart? Where does the directional compass of the man’s life point? Where does he turn for counsel in daytime or darkness, in sufferings or comfort, in hopes or fears, in victories or defeats, in vigor or in the shadow of death? Who is King – who is God – in his life? Is he, himself, his own “MVP” (“Most Valuable Person”) in his life? Is he himself King and Lord of his life? Or is the only God who IS, his God?

Of course, few travelers on the road to death realize what is there at the end of their journey. It seems a very pleasant path – or least, it is definitely the best they can find that gives them the most of what they want. It could always be better, certainly! If they could, they would take a job that pays more money and requires less of their time and effort. They would much prefer a nicer house, and longer vacations, and earlier retirement, and a better car, and more money, and a bigger TV, and … well, one could go on and on. No one has everything they want!

Except, of course, for those who want for nothing at all.

Even those who know enough to desire to want nothing – these are on the path to the path to it all. There, maybe, is the beginning: to realize that no “thing” can ever be enough to satisfy a hunger set into our hearts by God our Creator, a blessed hunger for eternal beatitude, eternal good, eternal life. That is the life we were made for and need to search for until we find it! This is the life that Jesus came to give us: “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (Jn 10:10)

God has given us the path to Him, and to life. Jesus – He is the way and the truth and the life. His way is not that of self-gratification and self-aggrandizement, just the opposite. His is the way of the Cross, of self-denial for the sake of love, of self-emptying for the good of others – even of one’s enemies. To be a Christian is to choose this path – to love this path for His sake – to love the Cross for His sake – to love being last and not first, all and anything for His sake, all for Him – the One who loved us and gave Himself for us, that we might in Him give ourselves away for His sake.

This present post is an extension of the last blog posted, only a few weeks ago: Our Greatest Enemy and Obstacle – The Enemy Within.  It might be helpful to read the two together.


Responses

  1. Dear Thomas,

    How appropriate this blog entry is on the eve of the Feast of Divine Mercy!

    By His Grace, won for us — at so great a cost — may we choose God above all, at all times, and in all situations, to reign as King in our hearts!

    Come Holy Spirit, kindle in us, the Fire of Your Love.
    Mary, Mother and Model of the Church, pray for us.
    Jesus, I trust in You!

  2. Thanks Thomas for helping us stay on the narrow path. You are right, there are only two choices….Create in me a clean heart, Jesus, one that will always choose you.

    • Thank you for your comment, Susan. Yes, the path is narrow. And yes, here is where “narrow-mindedness” is a beautiful virtue! Come, Lord Jesus….

  3. Dear Thomas,
    I am totally ashamed to confess I have not been reading all your blogs. And after reading these last two, I realize that only the devil can convince us we have no time, that we are too busy, or whatever other lame excuse. I congratulate you for making it so short. It only takes a moment to read, but it is packed with such a depth of wisdom, it is genuinely manna from heaven. I see so much what I have to correct, and how much more I should do, how much love I lack.
    Without pointing the finger at me, you make me discover my immense lacking, and I thank you sincerely for being such a guiding light. May the Lord continue to inspire you, and may His holy immaculate mother protect you and yours always.
    Sincerely, your sister in Christ,
    Gaby

    • Hello Gaby – thank you for your response. I especially note this from your comment, “I see so much what I have to correct, and how much more I should do, how much love I lack.” All of us need to know this, of ourselves! We all need – we must all seek and welcome – we must pray for true self-knowledge, to see ourselves as we are!

      We must see ourselves as God sees us – and we can all thank and praise the Holy Spirit, the Counselor, the Teacher within, when He reveals the darkness still in us. It is He who was sent to convince and convict us all of our deep and crucial need for Jesus Christ our Savior, our Redeemer, our Lord. He alone must be King and Lord of our lives. He calls us to holiness! And He alone can give us, can lead us into, holiness.

  4. In this material world, Thomas, you have provoked me to reflect on where my focus points. Quiet reflection helps to calm my spirit and I shall do that with this reading. Thank you.


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