Before everyone are life and death, whichever they choose will be given them. (Sirach 15:17)
I have a plant in my living room that I love. The leaves are wide and deep green. I have absolutely no idea what kind of plant it is; all I know is it’s pretty and easy to take care of and it sends a clear signal when it needs my attention. When I forget to water it, the leaves and stems bend clear down and lay flat on the table, but once I water it, it perks straight back up and looks beautiful within an hour. As we listened to this reading from Sirach at Mass recently, all I could think about was that plant.
The water on that plant in my living room creates life and beauty, and I can see it happening right before my very eyes. As I listened to these words and thought of my plant I realized that my choices affect my soul just like water affects that plant. Sometimes I accidentally neglect the plant but a wee bit of time and attention brings it right back to life and restores it’s beauty. I think that’s what God’s mercy does for our weary, soggy, limp souls. The water is the fruit of our prayer and his amazing grace. As I sat thinking about it, there are so many choices I make that deprive my soul of the life, beauty and brilliant joy just like my neglectful watering habits affect my pretty plant.
I began to wonder what choices I make that lead to the serious wilting of my relationship with the Father. My first smug thought was, I don’t make any decisions that are death, I’m much more of a choose-life person! As he always does when I think I’m all that and a holy bag of chips, he humbles me and what came next was a rapid fire list of behaviors, attitudes and actions that lead slowly to destruction. He reminded me that each time I look at someone in judgment, thinking of myself as happier, more prayerful, or more put together, my soul wilts. I realized that every time I choose to participate in a conversation that isn’t kind or charitable, my soul wilts. Every time I run to the comfort of food instead of running to the comfort of his love, I wilt a little. Every time I watch or read or listen to something that opposes his truth or purity or goodness I wilt a little. Each time I snap back at someone or make snap decisions about how someone drives or dresses or behaves, my soul wilts a little.
All of these situations may seem pretty innocent or human or even acceptable in themselves, but in reality the little things add up to become big and the choice is ours to make. I’ve been lucky that every time I’ve seen my plant drooping I’ve been able to water it and bring it back, but one of these times I might neglect it too long and it won’t perk back up. Thank goodness God’s mercy is more reliable than my plant-care skills! It’s never too late to turn back to Him but as the priest mentioned in his homily, there are always consequences!
With life there is abundant joy and mercy and grace. With death there is sadness, stress, destruction, and separation. Each of those little decisions I make that are not life-giving come with a consequence that is uncomfortable and undesirable. I’m sure I’ve blamed God for not listening or helping me out of a rough patch but as I think about it, those are probably times when I’m stuck in the yuck of consequences that are a direct result of those little soul wilting choices. When it all boils down to the bottom of the pot, the truth is, we have free will and the choices are truly all ours to make. That means that the consequences are also truly ours as well; we chose them. I decided that was a pretty tough truth!
This reading is about more than heaven and hell; it’s about today and tomorrow and the hundreds of todays and tomorrows that lead us into eternity. I think today is the day to start thinking more about the life and death of my choices. I’m thankful for a great message from Scripture and the beautiful visual aid that sits in my living room.
A Seed To Plant: Ask the Father to help you think about your choices pick out the ones that are reaping life and the ones that are wilting your soul.
Blessings on your day!
Copyright 2020 Sheri Wohlfert