A short distance north of present-day Nablus in Samaria (Nablus is an Arabic corruption of Flavia Neopolis) are the twin mountains Gerizim and Ebal. The biblical Shechem where Jacob’s Well still attracts pilgrims and tourists as the site where Jesus had a life-changing conversation with the Samaritan woman (John 4:5-26) is only a short distance between Nablus and the twin mountains.
It was here, between MountGerizim and MountEbal that “Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel [to Shechem] and summoned all the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel, and they presented themselves before God” (Joshua 24:1). He charged them to make a choice and decide between serving the Lord or other gods. He said; “Now, if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve…but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).
In Deuteronomy 11:29 Moses said to the Israelites in his farewell address: “When the Lord your God has brought you into the land that you are entering to occupy, you shall set the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal. That is what Joshua did – giving everyone the chance to make a choice and decide.
Every single day we are faced with many alternatives from which we must choose and make decisions; and every choice has its consequences. The First Reading for the Sixth Sunday after Epiphany (Ecclesiasticus 15:15-20) is a call to make a choice: “He has placed before you fire and water; stretch out your hand for whichever you choose”. It is the same call in the alternative Old Testament Reading from Deuteronomy 30:15-20: “See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity…Choose life so that you and your descendants may live”.
That is the nature of life: choices and decisions and consequences all the time.