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Understanding Our Catholic Faith

How We Know God’s Will: Freedom

Freedom
 

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.
John 13:34

Freedom

The world and our human limitations present us with many situations that require us to make choices. Some are relatively innocuous: white bread versus whole wheat, walking or riding a bus; making a telephone call now or later. Other choices however, reveal our true nature and show what we value most: Do I pay a fair price or try to make a deal that favors me? Will I skip Sunday Mass so that I can be at the beach early? Should I work late or attend a child's big game?

The free will that God endowed each of us with is a wonderful blessing, but it is also a burden. It forces us to be responsible for our actions because it allows us to choose between what will bring us closer to God and what will take us away from him.

Of course, God and the Church recognize that personal responsibility for an action is lessened by a lack of knowledge, duress, fear, and other factors. However, those actions that are consciously willed can make or break our relationships with others and with God.

The Ultimate Example

Love is the ultimate choice demanded of us. Happily, Jesus provides the ultimate example of love for us to follow: he loved us enough to die for us. Few of us need to make that great sacrifice, but we are called to make smaller sacrifices, to exercise our freedom appropriately, to further the Kingdom of God on earth.

Reflect

  • What feelings or thoughts does the statement "Free will makes you accountable" raise in you?
  • What are the "little choices" in daily life that you sometimes feel compelled to make, and feel you have no freedom?
  • When do you experience free will as a joy? As a burden?

Prayer

Lord Jesus, let me relish your gift of freedom, and open me to growing it through love. Amen.

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