If You Choose

– Br. Michael, ofm

You know those movies which have that perfect line at the perfect time and it either launches the movie forward, breaks open the message or sends us into a montage of the moments that make up this moment?

In the gospel of Mark, the story of the man with leprosy (Mark 1.40-45) would be one of those perfect moments. It would build to the moment when the man says to Jesus, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” Then when Jesus responds with “I do choose. Be made clean” cue the music, the intense gaze and montage. It really is a beautiful and powerful moment which is not a Hollywood moment rather an invitation for us.

“If you choose…”   “I do choose…”

These two short sentences are powerful ones and although only part of a larger scripture story they are also words of our story.

“If you choose”

I say to Christ time and again,

as if it’s a wish and as if my way is the right way.

“If you choose”

I say to Christ

not focusing on what I’m choosing and not focusing what is out of alignment.

“If you choose”

I say to Christ

almost in the sense of “prove it – show me” like a defiant stance.

Christ always responds, even if I don’t see how or where.

“I do choose”

Christ says time and again

with deep love, compassion and with endless mercy.

“I do choose”

Christ says focusing us as a beloved child of God

and being created in the image of God.

“I do choose”

Christ says with assurance of his lasting presence

and peace beyond the surface (and yet we often latch onto the fading surface).


When the man with leprosy came to Jesus and said, “If you choose, you can make me clean,” he came not with a wish rather with faith. I would like to think a faith that regardless of how Christ responded his life would be changed. He had to come surrendering his all, looking at what was trapping him and trusting in transformation. We struggle with this. I know I do. “How will Christ respond? What if I don’t want to surrender it all? What if my trappings are keeping me comfortable – and I like comfortable? What if transformation feels too big or freeing or beyond my limits?” These are the questions I ask. Then I start to change my question.

“If you choose, can you change me just a little bit, but not too much there? Make me clean as in like a quick shower so I can come back again and ask for another cleaning? Or how about just choosing for today?” It’s funny how we play tricks with our self when it comes to surrender, freedom and transformation. I know how I rework these gifts in my mind and settle for less rather than allow the fullness of Christ to penetrate my all. Regardless, Christ says, “I do choose” because he is for us. He Is not an obstacle or a hoop and loop to jump through and he is not a prize to be earned. He is for us, he is constantly saying, “I do choose. I do choose. I do choose.” His choosing also may be translated as:

“I am with you always until the end of the ages.”

Matthew 28.20

“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.”

John 15.9

“Your faith has made you well.”

Mark 5.34


Christ chooses us time and again, it is his mission, his heart’s desire to continually have humanity and creation before him, to gaze on us with love. In choosing us he chooses to free us from all which binds us, to set captives free, to proclaim justice, to bring good news, to recovery our sight and affirm God’s favour with us (Luke 4.16-17).

Christ does choose and yet so often we choose not to hear or see. May our eyes be opened to the transforming power of the love of Christ. He chooses us time and again. May our hearts be softened and our fears surrendered. We are transformed and life is abounding when we see our new self made clean and set free.

I say to Christ “If you choose” and before I can finish the sentence Christ responds, “I do choose.”  Let us remember this generosity in how we respond to our sisters and brothers and creation this week.


Photo Credit: Claudio Schwarz Purzlbaum