fire and waterReading: Sirach 15:15-20
In the first reading in the upcoming Sunday readings Sirach presents God’s gift to us of free will and discernment. In verse 14 (not in the lectionary reading) Sirach says,

God in the beginning created human beings
and made them subject to their own free choice.

This means God gives us freedom and the power to make our lives what we like. Saint Ignatius reminds us that since the purpose for our lives is to serve and glorify God, our choices must be for that purpose as well. Before us God has set “fire and water” the scripture says. “Before everyone are life and death, whichever they choose will be given them.” We can freely choose between good and evil, but God’s desire is for good, for us to find our vocation, our calling.
None of us choose to be born. We come into the world and have to find our way through the struggles and messiness of life. Yet most of us discover we have passions and interests and loves that lead us to our vocation. We get degrees, start businesses, fall in love, travel, and develop our own way of life.
But this way of life God calls to justice, mercy, and love. Through discernment we can see that the passions and interests we discover are placed before us by God, like the fire and water in Sirach’s discourse on free will. “No one does [God] command to act unjustly,” Sirach says. God calls us toward the good spirit, not to the evil spirit. When, through our choices, we make our way toward the good spirit, we discover that the life we chose not to be born into is actually unmerited gift.
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Music by Kevin MacLeod