Yes, we are free to make our choices but no one of us is free to deny the consequences of our choices. We like the first part but we often do our best, individually and collectively, to deny the reality of the second half. But all choices have consequences whether for good or for ill, whether immediate or some time “down the road”. No person can escape the consequences of his or her actions.
The key, for the person of faith, is to not only to choose for the Kingdom in a particular circumstance but to also develop the ingrained habit/discipline of choosing for the Kingdom. I think that our choices are at the heart of the images that our Lord gives us regarding our relation to the kingdom of heaven in this Sunday’s gospel (Mt. 13:44-52).
Jesus says that the kingdom of heaven is like a “treasure buried in a field” which, when once found, a person then sells all that he has in order to buy the field. Or the kingdom is like a fine pearl which, again, a person goes and sells all that he has in order to buy it. In both of these images the person makes a radical and extreme choice. They sell everything, they let go off everything in order to acquire this one treasure! Nothing is more important. Reputation, security, wealth, relationships, advancement – they just don’t compare. They do not matter in light of this one great treasure!
This is the choice for the Kingdom of God and there are consequences.
…the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea … what is good (goes into buckets). What is bad is thrown away. Thus it will be at the end of the age.
All choices have consequences. When we make the choice for the Kingdom, for God, for what is right – even if in the most trying of circumstances, even if not applauded but derided, even if in the face of persecution – we gain life. The life of the Kingdom of God grows within us.
In our first reading (1 Kgs 3:5, 7-12) Solomon was also faced with a choice. God says to the young king, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.” Solomon could have asked for anything and God knows this. Solomon, aware of his role as a young king, asks, “Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and distinguish right from wrong.” Solomon is blessed in his choice because he made a choice for the Kingdom of God. He did not choose for himself – to build up his ego, his wealth or his power – rather, he made a choice for others – he asked for wisdom that he might serve and govern God’s people well and justly. In so doing, Solomon mirrored the reality of God who is love who pours himself out for all of his creation and Solomon was blessed. Life grew within him.
Yes, we are free to make our choices but no one of us is free to deny the consequences of our choices. Our choices can help, our choices can heal! Our Lord invites us to continually, in all situations and seasons, make the choice for the kingdom – that we might be blessed and have life within us and that his kingdom might continually grow in order to heal the pains and wounds of our world.
The Lord was pleased with Solomon’s request and said to him, “Because you have asked for this – not for a long life for yourself, nor for riches, nor for the life of your enemies, but for understanding so that you might know what is right – I do as you requested.”